Thursday, 10 January 2013

Smoking Kids: You’ve Come a Long Way … Baby

READERS, WHAT DO YOU THINK? USING CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER IS AN OUTCRY. FOR GOD'S, LET OUR INNOCENT CHILDREN BE CHILDREN. SMOKING IS VERY, VERY DANGEROUS TO HEALTH. Frieke Janssens. “My series is not pro- or anti-smoking,” explained Janssens. “My goal is to make people think about the meaning of it.” Since releasing the images a couple of years ago, Janssens has received a lot of press about the series. Much of the reaction has been what she expected. “First people see a picture they like because I paid a lot of attention to the aesthetics of the images,” said Janssens. “But on the other hand they see a kid smoking; [it’s] surreal for them in the Western context.” Part of that aesthetic process included working with a lot of kids, which is “much easier than people expect,” Janssens insists. “The girls were excited and very patient—the boys, not so much. But I always had the parents away from the set since it’s easier for the kids without them around—much easier for them to concentrate.” Janssens shot the series with a relatively small team including hair and makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, and prop stylists who fabricated the cigarettes out of cheese (they are in Belgium, after all), and a post-production team to create the illusion of the kids smoking.
Whether portraying children with cigarettes or adults taking their final portraits before dying, Janssens is interested in taking a deeper look into societal norms. “I always try to make people reflect on social or lifestyle subjects. But I also want the viewer to enjoy looking at the images. I think that is the duality of my work.” What you think of Janssens’ controversial work? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

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