Can a Kid with a Cigarette Be Considered Art?
A series of vintage-style child smokers aims to challenge viewers' attitudes to the habit.
Here's a series of art works sure to draw some double-takes: Smoking Kids. Belgian artist and photographer Frieke Janssens, inspired by the reaction to a viral YouTube video of an Indonesian baby with a two-pack-a-day habit, wanted to examine differences in how smoking is viewed around the world. Her collection of circular portraits, featuring adult-like smoking children with a vintage look, isn't meant to take sides. “My series is not pro- or anti-smoking,” Janssens explains to Slate. “My goal is to make people think about the meaning of it.” As you'd expect, she's had mixed reactions: “First people see a picture they like because I paid a lot of attention to the aesthetics of the images,” she says. “But on the other hand they see a kid smoking; [it’s] surreal for them in the Western context.” Fortunately the kids aren't actually smoking: The works were made with a small team of hair and wardrobe stylists and prop artists who created the cigarettes out of...cheese. Smoke was added in post-production. Check out a few samples: