(Note to the reader: Cigarettes in these photos were made out of cheese and the children were not exposed to actual smoke)
Titled “The beauty of an ugly addiction”, photographer Frieke Janssens confronts viewers with questions about the general smoking ban introduced in Belgium some months ago. Surrealistic, melancholic and theatrical but especially controversial pictures of smoking kids are used to visualise the contradiction of the unhealthy cigarette and the immense attraction of smoking.
The children, aged four to nine, are shameless posing while enjoying their cigarette or cigarillo. So why kids? By portraying adults as children all the attention went to the smoking. An adult would draw to much attention to the portrayed person. Thus these portraits evoke question such as: is the smoking ban the right way to get rid of an absurd addiction and are smokers treated like little kids who can’t make the difference between good and bad? While Frieke doesn’t give answers, the portraits are strong enough to start your thinking process!
Frieke got the idea after seeing a youtube movie in which a two year old Indonesian boy smokes up to 40 cigarettes a day. It struck her that the reactions on this youthfull smoker were culturally stipulated: Americans reacted shocked while Indonesians and the parents of the little boy saw the smoking habit as something normal.