After watching the disturbing and controversial YouTube video (embedded below) of an Indonesian toddler smoking, photographer Frieke Janssens created an unexpected and astonishing exhibit called “Smoking Kids”. While many will find her photographs unsettling, Janssen seeks to make people look at smoking in a different light. Instead of viewing only the portrayed smoker, she draws our attention to the act of smoking, itself. Her theatrical photographs make us consider both the “beauty and ugliness of smoking”. There is an attractive nature to this very unhealthy addiction. Janssens is a renowned photographer who finds inspiration for her works in many different places, including videos and paintings. She strives for her works to be both beautiful and interesting – to get us to pause and examine each photo more closely. This is definitely something she has succeeded in doing with her dramatic display of children smoking. To put our minds at ease Janssens is quick to point out that the children in the photo shoot were never exposed to any cigarette smoke, that the props used were actually cheese and chalk, and that the smoke in the pictures (which is not photo-shopped in) came from incense and candles. You can find Janssens on Facebook.
The video that inspired Janssens to make this series:
Behind the scenes: