Internationally renowned photographer Viveca Ljung is using her artistic expression to promote the diversity of the world we live in and to encourage acceptance of diverse people from all walks of life. Our world has been internationalized and with that comes deep mixing of cultures. It is no surprise, then, that as result we are seeing more and more mixed race couples with mixed race children.
Despite this increasing commonality of mixed cultures, intolerance persists for many. As citizens of humanity and of this world, it’s our job to ensure a positive, progressive future for all – but most of all, for our children. Ljung does exactly that with her photography.
Viveca Ljung, has made the children of mixed marriages the focal point of her latest exhibition, “Face of the World,” which launched during Art Basel 2016 in Miami, Florida. The unique exhibition showcases the extraordinary and beautiful faces from children around the world who embody the mix ethnicities becoming more prominent throughout the world.
The photo exhibition focuses on the next generation who are a combination of parents from different cultural backgrounds. They are living examples of how diversity is beautiful and harmonious.
“The mission of the exhibition is to display a collection of professional portraits of children with cultural and ethnic diversity, thus bringing awareness and “tuning-in” on world unity regardless of religion, ethnic or cultural differences,” explains Ljung. “It demonstrates how strength lies in differences, not similarities.”
And her message is being heard by hundreds and thousands, including the likes of world renowned tech giant, Apple, whose corporate headquarters in New York City recently approached her. They were blown away by the concept and images of the children and offered Viveca the opportunity to shoot now on an iPhone 7plus portrait images in Raw mode.
The concept came to her late last year in February. Knowing she could not do everything on her own, she called her working partner of 12 years, Shiri Fauer, and her best friend for over 35 years, Cecilie Jorgensen. They both have diverse, mixed race daughters, adding to the passion and inspiration behind the show. As a team, they decided on a pre-exhibit and launch at Art Basel Miami 2016. Held at the Miami River Yacht Club, the inaugural event lasted all of Saturday on December 3 and was a huge success, receiving about 550-850 spectators throughout the day. Ljung felt that Miami was the perfect setting to officially launch her works because Miami is an international cultural “hot spot” and home to many of the most diverse populations in the world.
Mixed ethnicities and diverse upbringings, 100 children have been photographed portraying their natural innocence. “Face of the World” showcases these multi-racial children who were born or raised in Miami. They represent colorful combinations such as Native American/Italian, Latvian/Colombian, Romanian/Turkish, Israeli/Peruvian, Panamanian/German, Serbian/Norwegian, and many, many more. The exhibit also included the children of iconic professional NBA athletes, such as the kids of Scottie Pippen.
The “Faces of the World” portraits were made into oversized prints ranging in size as big as 6 feet by 8 feet, creating an awe-inspiring factor. Additionally, prints were embellished by renowned visual and tattoo artist, Darren Brass of Miami Ink, adding a splash of color and unique signature style.
Ljung says the seed of the idea for this exhibit came to her after her 30 years of photographing children around the world. Ljung has proudly lived in over 60 countries around the globe and has seen all of the seven continents. In fact, she has been capturing children around the world for over 20 years, from the Masai tribes in Kenya to the streets kids in Nha Trang Vietnam, while working for a few different daily newspapers in Sweden, where she was born and raised.
“At the age of eight my mom took me to Northern Africa working as a volunteer for the Red Cross, on this particular trip my mom gave me my first Nikon F4 and my passion and journey to become a photographer was planted,” Ljung remarks. She also recalls her father opening her eyes to world of photography his Polaroid camera and 8mm film camera.
Both her mother and father profoundly impacted not only her early skills as a photographer, but also her ability to see and capture the beauty in everyday life. For it is our surroundings, the simplicity of world we live in, where the most overlooked inspiration lies. Ljung has been able to capture the underlying splendor of everyday life and amplify it to the world through her art.
“My inspiration has always been nature, landscape and people from a complete opposite culture than mine. I grew up in Sweden, where the winters are long, dark and very cold, so my desire was always to travel as far south as I could,” she elaborated.
However, it wasn’t just her love for traveling and exotic places that inspired her exhibition. It is much deeper than that. As a mother of a mixed race daughter, Vanessa (age 12), she began to worry about her daughters’ future.
“I felt truly upset where the world was going today, and as I have a voice and a talent I needed to do what I could to express that and hope that I at least could make a small change. I wanted to share a positive message about our youth and how their pure innocence seems to allow them to all get along beautifully here,” Ljung proclaimed.
As an outward expression of her own inner hopes and beliefs, she seeks to provoke emotions with audiences, that they will be able to feel her expression and touch their hearts. Even more, she hopes that the children will bring something with them on their life journey.
“Maybe this will inspire them to be able to change something we never could,” said Ljung.
With her team, Ljung eagerly and passionately continues to share these aspirations with the world. She plans to continue her journey with her next exhibition, “True Faces of The World,” which is an expansion of “Face of the World.” To prepare, she plans to continue to travel to more cities in search of more unique faces with surprising mixes — and of course showcase her work at Art Basel Miami in 2017.
Her next main exhibit for “True faces of the World” will be held next month on March 10, 11 and 12 in a two story old warehouse by the upcoming and very popular “River District” next to downtown and Brickell in a “Secret Location”. Follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/viveca.ljung) or Instagram (@truefacesoftheworld) for the big reveal of the event location! The event will display all the art prints of the 170 diverse children from over 65 countries from around the world.
All of the images will be for sale and parents can also commission photography of their children. “Faces of the World” will also have a merchandise program. A coffee table book will also be for sale incorporating the photos and the message of unity through our children as well as t-shirts and caps. A percentage of all sales will go to a designated charity including Miami’s Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
Through her photographs, she spreads the message of “acceptance, appreciation and love” for all. The goal is to expel racial intolerance and expand synchronicity and unity, embracing the world as a global community.
Ljung leaves us with these words of inspiration: “Always stay humble, true to yourself, appreciate and show acceptance, and reach out a hand when you can.”
For more information, visit her website at http://www.vivecaljung.com
You can view her complete presentation at Face of the World Presentations: http://www.ehopeinternational.com/FacesOfTheWorld.pdf