I thought my heart would break .

Saturday 1468 – 9th June 2012.

WARNING – Language and image that might offend and they should !

I was in London on Saturday 1468 visiting a friend of mine and we went to the Saatchi Gallery to see a photographic exhibition called Out of Focus- Photography and as you are rather surprisingly allowed to take photographs I expected that today I would post a selection but…..

There was one photograph that shocked us both and this is the one I feel I MUST post so here it is.. I will tell you something about it below.





Even though the photograph was huge it was only when I got close I realised what was written on the child’s forehead.

I felt as though my heart had been ripped out and the image kept coming back into my mind throughout the day. This single photograph said more to me than thousands of words and could be interpreted in many ways.

When I got home I determined that I would try to find out more about the photographer and what was behind this image. His name is Mikhael Subotzky and he lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa .

There are several of his photos in the gallery and you can see them by clicking on his name above. Quotes from the Saatchi website –

“he ( Mikhael) set out to make a portrait of a small, post-apartheid town that would address marginalization and incarceration, two facets of the violence wracking the country”

“Beaufort West was his choice, a hardscrabble place located roughly equidistant between Cape Town and Johannesburg. In the best tradition of the extended photo essay Subotzky gives us a balanced picture of the place and its people, the drunks, prostitutes and prisoners at the bottom of the heap; the grim-faced whites holding onto their privileges at the top.”

and about the photograph of the girl

“Most wrenching is a picture of a dazed young girl with the words ‘Fuck Me’ written on her forehead – the idea of a joke, the photographer tells us, of her drunken parents.


I’m sorry if this offends you but it’s right that it should.. it should offend everyone enough that they want to help make changes to this messed up world we live in. 


Saturday girl signing off .. see you next week.

 I also have a daily photography blog called Helen’s Photomania which you can find here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.


30 comments on “I thought my heart would break .

  1. […] have shared my deep love of the environment, poetry , books,  sculpture,  art  ( warning on that one) and most of all photography; there have been well over 400 photographs […]

  2. eof737 says:

    This is hugely disturbing… I’m not even sure that liking it is appropriate other than to bring attention to the work… and remind all of us of the power of words to heal and maim. Thanks Helen for sharing this. I was furious when I hear drunken parents wrote something awful on the child’s forehead…. God help us all. Do you have another blog?

  3. shobavish says:

    Very troubling….

  4. […] Back from Sorrento to a cool and wet UK ….Harrrumph!  but on my 1466th Saturday I found myself back in London. Those of you who follow regularly will remember I was there 2 Saturdays ago and that post “I thought My Heart Would Break” was disturbing.. if you haven’t seen it already you can read it here […]

  5. Some people don’y deserve to be parents. How awful for this child.

  6. […] My Heart Would Break” was very grim.. if you haven’t seen it already you can read it here but I warn you that it is pretty upsetting. This week’s post has an entirely different tone […]

  7. Karen says:

    A very powerful but sad image.

  8. Tilly Bud says:

    The simplest pictures are often the most powerful.

  9. ~mimo~ says:

    horrific! Some people should not be allowed to have children. We are tested before we drive cars, yet anyone is allowed to host the most incredibly precious of humans without being able to give them the care they deserve. It breaks my heart…

    • Helen Cherry says:

      I know Mimo… but if you marginalise and brutalise people this is the result. Are the people that did this really to blame or is the uncaring brutal society they live in to blame?

  10. scillagrace says:

    At first I thought you would tell us that the photographer composed the shot in order to make a point about rape during wartime or oppressive regimes. When I read that her parents had done that, it certainly went deeper. At what point does a human being believe that they are subhuman and embrace that for some kind of self-preservation? I think of the psychology of concentration camps and methodically achieving that goal of total de-humanization. When the parents pass that on to their own children, I think that goal must be achieved.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      I had expected to find that when I researched the photograph Scilla but somehow the look on the childs face made me doubt it could be so… I doubt there was thought went into becoming oppressed, hopeless and brutalised. Isn’t it likely that her parents weren’t able to adequately parent too? I don’t think this is the result of something that happened over night but probably the product of generations?

  11. Marleen says:

    Oh my god!!! I am speechless. What a horrible thing to do. I just hope nobody took it litterally, although, in these poor circumstances……Absolutely sickening.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      I know it is horrible Marleen.. but as yo say when people live in terrible circumstances they are capable of many things as has been proved throughout history..

  12. bananabatman says:

    A grim photo. I didn’t like the photo, but you were right to make this post. I’m not sure that I could have even taken the photo, had I had the chance, even though the story needed to be told.

  13. More than disturbing …

  14. artblablablablog says:

    Disturbing. I can’t make myself hit the like button. That said, it is a powerful image which I am sure was the point and is very well executed.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      I can understand about the like button artabla.. I think they should change it to an appreciation button or something instead.. The image is I’m sure meant to disturb..

  15. totsymae1011 says:

    I must say, this is jarring. What goes on in the mind of a parent to do this, I’m totally baffled. Yes, it is heartbreaking.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      When you have been oppressed, brutalised and have little hope life becomes cheap totsymae so it’s not suprising that people turn to drink or/and drugs to try to escape..

  16. For so many reasons that is an incredible image. I wonder how Subotzky felt when he took the photo?

  17. Rachael says:

    How utterly sad. Thank you for bringing this to a wider audience.

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