Julia Fullerton- Batten - about her Feral Children project
“My project ‘Feral Children, 2015’ was inspired by reading the biography of Marina Chapman (‘The Girl with no Name’, by Marina Chapman and Vanessa James, her daughter). Marina was 5-years old when she was kidnapped and abandoned by her captors in a Colombian jungle. She was ‘rescued’ five years later, only to enter even more unpleasant life experiences before achieving a more settled life and later on getting married and having a family.
I was appalled and intrigued by this story of this young girl surviving in the wild and it inspired me to search for other cases of feral children. Some several centuries-old cases are surprisingly well-documented because of the great interest at that time of the development of speech and social behavior patterns. Other cases mentioned are even more recent from the 21st Century.
Usually I take several months from start to finish when producing a project. In the case of ‘Feral Children’ it took me nearly 2 years.
With this project, each feral child was a project in itself, requiring intensive research and pre-planning. Finding the locations for shooting and sourcing dogs, wolves, monkeys and a leopard took a long time.
Myself and an associate found a number of suitable candidates for each child. Many of them were actors. I explained to them that they would be made up to look half-naked, dirty, bruised and scarred. Some of the children couldn’t really believe the stories but found them interesting. Several of the parents found them very disturbing, and were unsure about their child’s participation. However, they were all happy to do the shoot when they heard that my reason for doing it was to increase global awareness of feral children and the suffering they experienced.”