© Emily Schiffer Reservation in South Dakota (US), 2005
« In 2005, I founded a photography program for youth on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, USA. In this ongoing program, my students and I are all subjects of each other’s work.
Our favorite locations are the fields and abandoned buildings on the fringes of town, forgotten places thick with the past that lend themselves to imaginary games and textured photographs.
Children have a unique ability to experience love, joy, and pain simultaneously, without compartmentalizing their experiences. I aim to convey this complexity. My images explore play as a vehicle through which youth reveal and negotiate their emotions, traumas, and desires. Empowered by the safety of their small town, children explore freely and develop a community of young people that operates largely without adult intervention. I have chosen to focus on children’s relationships with their environment and with each other, because it is an essential part of life on the reservation, yet is often overlooked by both residents and outsiders. »