Siblings are usually an integral part of children’s social world (Furman & Buhrmester, 1982; Lamb &Sutton-Smith, 1982) and older brothers and sisters are often role models and teachers to their younger siblings. These relationships have various forms like competitive, harmonious, conflicted or co-operative. This project is examining the relationships and power status between siblings, and how they affect one’s identity.
“When I Was a Child” is a series of stories, telling a childhood memory with siblings. The stories have been told from the point of views of oldest siblings, middle children, youngest of the family or only children. The collection of stories is intimate and personal, as usually only friends and family have heard them, and the photographs are taken from family albums. The truthful point of view gives the viewer an opportunity to experience childhood happenings through the write’s eyes.
Why are these stories remembered? How does our brains choose which ones to leave out, and which ones to keep? We can remember the silliest and the most arbitrary details from childhood, but also many times, childhood stories are not remembered by the persons themselves but they have heard them for countless times from their parents and grandparents. It is impossible to know when this border gets blurred and we start building our own memories around exaggerated anecdotes. The writers were not led with strict directions, simply to write a memory with siblings that comes to mind.
Memories also affect building one’s identity. Many times, we tend to remember when a sibling broke or took something that belonged to us, how they fooled us or hurt us by accident or intentionally. All these negative experiences build the relationship, as well as the happy ones. The project is also examining does the relationship remain the same in the adulthood, or does it become the opposite?
Even though participants of the project are from different countries and continents, it would be hard to tell the difference without the photographs. The memories we keep are unique but they share certain similarities: funny accidents, simple happiness and the excitement over small things.