Do you remember this photo series by Frieke Janssens?
Photographer Frieke Janssens controversial series, Smoking Kids, saw children ages 4-9 dressed in outfits that evoked particular periods of cigarette culture. While the costuming and posing of the children evokes perhaps a certain glamour that some still find in the begone ‘Mad Menesque’ era, visually you are forced to see the ugliness of smoking when juxtaposed with the youth of her subjects. These photo narratives question whether or not the fascination for cigarettes is as enticing when viewed on children. Now, the cigarettes used in the photos were actually fashioned out of cheese, candles and incense – though I doubt that will make most comfortable with the subject matter.
A lot of Janssens’ work tackles addiction and social change. The uneasiness the viewer experiences while looking at her photography parallels that of our society’s approach to tackling these long standing obstacles. We’ve allowed ourselves to view many of these as acceptable modern societal norms – and she challenges that.
Her latest series Animalcoholics goes surrealist as it imagines alcoholics down to their base selves, after loss of self control and self consciousness has reduced them to their primal selves.