The Little Prince
I would like to represent the photo series which is probably the most known from my work. Its title is The Little Prince and it was made in 2013. It’s a true story about 12-year-old boy Luka who visited school in the center where I work. He had muscular dystrophy, which is a very hard and progressive disease. The signs of his illness were evident very early on, so he could never walk. His body had weakened so much that he could only do some movements and had very little strength. Even with the basic life activities, such as washing, dressing and feeding, and others, usually done self-evidently and by the way, he needed someone to help him all the time. The only thing that he was still physically capable of, were small, but very weak finger movements. With them, he managed the ‘joystick’ of an electric wheel-chair, pressed the computer mouse and held a pencil.
In spite of the physical handicap, Luka was an exceptionally creative boy. Ideas kept on boiling from his rich world of imagination, without acknowledging any limits. On paper, he drew different motives, on his computer, he designed logotypes, wrote texts, recorded hip hop music, edited videos… He was acquainted with his disease and knew what it meant for him and for his future. However, he did not talk about it a lot.
Once, in one of our conversations, he expressed a wish to see himself in the photographs- walking, swimming, dancing and doing several other things he was unable to do in life.
I wasn’t expecting that. I was afraid that when he saw himself in such pictures, he wouldn’t be happy, because he would be cruelly confronted with his condition and feel depressed. When talking to him I was very cautious and full of doubts, but then these doubts disappeared one after another. The imaginary world doesn’t mean an escape from the reality, it is a part of our reality. If we find an appropriate way to enter and exit this imaginary world, it can become a never-ending source of inspiration for our creativity.
The next question I needed to answer was- how do I do it? I didn’t want to use Photoshop. I wanted a simple and humorous approach that isn’t pathetic. I thought and I thought about how to solve this problem. I took my camera, climbed three meters high and looked down. As always, problems look different when viewed from a new perspective.
Luka was very happy when he saw the photos of himself, but then I was thinking that a photographic series would, with a proper presentation, interest a wider circle of people. If Luka’s story could touch me so much, it could perhaps reach other people, as well.
I mentioned to him the possibility of showing the photographic series to someone else, and he was immediately up for it. I talked to his parents and explained to them what this type of presentation meant and what it can bring along. They agreed instantly, as well.
Just a few days after I posted the photos on my website, up to then viewed around ten times a day only, something unimaginable happened. It was as if a mighty avalanche had fallen. The photographic content became viral and people started sharing it on the internet with no end to it. Numerous accomplished TV, print and internet media wrote about it and reported about it. On the web portal BuzzFeed, these photographs were even placed on the list of 35 most touching photographs of all times. It was possible to read a ton of positive comments, the number of views increased daily and reached millions. Luka became a true star. He got interview requests from everywhere and got invited to many places in the world. Every day, a lot of e-mails of support and personal stories of different people got to him, describing their experience and expressing their feelings.
It was obvious that the story honestly touched many people. Perhaps it was because Luka’s story is depicted positively and wittily despite his difficult life circumstances. Perhaps it was because the photographs address us all so non-violently that we think about different perspectives and true values in our own lives. That we realize we do not live in a single dimension, the dimension of banality, superficiality and materiality. And that we see how the shackles that bind us and do not let us breathe can only be overcome by our own activity and creativity. Every single one of us holds his or her own pen and paper, therefore he or she has all the possibilities to draw and create a balloon to lift him or her above the clouds.
P.S.: I also wrote the screenplay and directed the same titled 15-minute-long documentary and animated film. The film won the award "Vesna" for special achievements at "Festival slovenskega filma" (Festival of Slovenian Film).
You can watch the film here: