Dora Maar, “Handstand”, 1934, Barcelona

Why is this child of early adolescent age standing in front of photo-camera and viewers on his head? Is he preparing for school competition? For future athletic profession fertilized by solid investment? Is he entertaining the passer-byes (passer-buyers) for coins or banknotes reward? May be, he is bragging about his prowess in front of his peers? Looking at the boy’s face it is obvious, that it’s not pleasant for him to stand on his hands. The boy is without any bravado we can see on kids’ faces in sport photos.

But why Dora Maar could get the idea to make a photo of the boy doing] handstand? Was her intention casual or “instinctive” or just a “why not” idea, with the hope that the photo can look “interesting” or “unusual” – motivation of many photographers looking for success? Dora Maar is a meaning oriented photo-artist – she “disinterestedly, selflessly thinks”, not just “wanders” searching for images.


The variant of Dora Maar’s “Handstand” – “Hanging on the Ceiling”

As we see in the second photo (which is just a turned upside down version of the first), it doesn’t matter is the kid standing on his hands or “hanging from the ceiling” – it’s his great attempt to do so the point. The circumstances made him do this instead of inspiring him to do something more meaningful, for example, to study for better understanding life, not for “survival”, but for the development of the soul and mind, instead of preparing himself to serve to protect the wealth of the wealthy and power of the powerful.

Of course, mass orientation on pop-sport today is supported by pop-taste for mass-cultural prevalence of building up of human body and developing mental control over loco-motions – to the drastic neglect of humanistic education, of reading poetry and prose, giving oneself to un-entertaining art and to experiencing serious films instead of action movies. The cult of professional sport helped by intensive money investment. The result – the teens and teenagers become involved with high-risk sport, Ultimate fight in all its variants, skateboarding sport and more and more attracted to speed, height, high level of physical exertion and highly specialized gear. Modern military training, intense sport and big business united into one super-efficient sector of mass pedagogy and propaganda of strength and prowess as an ultimate value.

In the 30s this tendency to train kids, youth and adults for obedience (in front of rulers) and domination (instead of contemplation and grace) over others was developing in countries with intense authoritarian-totalitarian tendencies, like some European countries and in Soviet Union. Number of Dora Maar’s photographs including her “Handstand” are dedicated to the historical analysis of this tendency of preparing children to endure tough and rough self-treatment for being able to fight with the “external and internal enemies” of militaristic States. Children are especially vulnerable to influence and manipulation by adults, even when they think that they’re in the center of the world or on the rock-music stage. Ultimately, it is adults who finance children’s childish and anti-thinking orientation – on developing muscles instead of existential brains. It is the ruling adults create the obstacles for the young to mature intellectually and spiritually.

For money, success, rewards and trophies for courage in self-sacrifice for the sake of the adults they have idealized, children learn how to stand on their heads or how to hang from the ceiling, clouds and sunbeams, like Dora Maar’s protagonist will do everything to deserve the encouraging smiles of adults, like animation cartoon superheroes, like today’s champions and winners, like future conquerors of the planet Earth. The abused boy in Dora Maar’s photo is a recruit into adult males’ dreams of unlimited power.

Children from their childhood are cultivated to remain infantile. Ruling adults organize the structure of education in a way that children cannot develop into authentic adults. Thinking about future money and social success overburdens their souls. Children and child-like adults (the majority) are more gullible and easier seduced to follow any fantasy of any tyrant. Homo-childish is a creature who dreams just to work very hard by playing games in order to get rewards. Homo-childishness as an adult condition includes hard work unrecognizable by the toy artificiality of the childish worldview.