“Nothing is too serious and every day is just a game,” says Slovak photographer Kata Sedlak of summertime for her two young boys, Oliver and Alan. Boyhood is a chronicle of their play, an examination of the secret language that exists just between the pair of them.
Oliver and Alan, in some ways, are foils of one another; Oliver, the eldest by one year at five, is introspective and imaginative, while his brother craves action and adventure. Oliver is fair-haired; Alan has darker locks. But despite their physical and psychological contrasts, the boys are—in their mother’s words—“inseparable.”
Boyhood was photographed at the photographer’s home in Piestany, Slovakia, where she lives with her two sons and daughter. It is, she explains, just one of many vignettes she’s collected of her children’s early years, beginning with a maternity leave from work many years ago. All three of her children understand that the camera is in some ways an extension of their mother; they take it for granted, although this summer, Oliver revealed his own aesthetic ambitions; he was, she admits, the force behind the image in which he stands, silhouetted and drenched, against the darkening sky.
Sedlak’s collaboration with her children won’t end, she insists, until the youngest, Alan, grows up. She knows time moves quickly—acknowledging that she has about fourteen years left—but still she cherishes every moment she’s allowed to be a part of their fanciful and curious universe. Seeing them at this age transports her back to her own girlhood; it’s a time when everything is new and nothing is frightening, the one era in our lifetimes in which the entire world seems, as the artist puts it, “small as a button.”
All images © Kata Sedlak