How a Mysterious Sculpture Brilliantly Revealed the Truth Behind Ukraine’s Child Beggars

Taking a photo of the activation exposed the full picture

Those who looked into a large black box saw only a young girl, until they took a flash photo. Angry
Headshot of David Griner

Despite having a small budget, Ukrainian agency Angry had a big task on its hands: Get people to see the full picture when it comes to children begging on the streets.

Specifically, the UN Migration Agency wanted to highlight that most children in such situations are actually being forced to panhandle against their will, manipulated by human traffickers who hide in the shadows nearby.

But how do you make people curious to discover more about people they’ve become accustomed to seeing (and likely ignoring) every day?

Angry found a brilliantly eerie way of putting a light on the issue during the three-day Kyiv Lights Festival in the nation’s capital. A large black box contained a statue of a young girl begging for money, and she could easily be seen when viewers looked through a hole into the box. But they were also encouraged to take a flash photograph, and that’s when all became clear:

The effort was well placed amid the Lights Festival, which celebrates innovation in  media arts and 3-D designs that use light in creative ways. With a small production budget and no promotional dollars to spread the word, the agency’s ability to create an ambitious piece of light art was limited, so instead the creative team went with a black box and peephole, allowing the light of flash photography to be the revealing element.

What was exposed by the flash, as you can see in the video above, was a dark puppet master holding invisible strings that control the young panhandler. It’s a simple but surprising visual, and messaging on the outside of the activation made sure viewers knew to use a flash.

According to the agency, 5,647 flash photos were taken at the exhibit during the three days of the festival. In addition to making the activation an interactive experience, the photography also helped increase the likelihood that viewers would share the image with their friends and on social media.

After the festival was over, the box was moved to contemporary art museum AkT and then found a permanent home in the city of Odessa.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: March 5, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT