Given the video that was circulating some years back of a smoking toddler, smoking children isn’t exactly high on what I would describe as the Chic Meter. Yet when Belgium artist Frieke Janssens gets ahold of the concept — and with the help of digital photography — suddenly we’re looking at something else entirely.
Mother Jones reports that the collection entitled “Smoking Kids” attempts to “capture the ugliness and the not-quite-bygone glamour of lighting up.” The styling of the children certainly helps with allusions to war generals, bored housewives, and ever so slightly androgynous 1920s starlets. But before anyone throws a hissy fit over the children having their faces painted and handed cigarettes, it’s worth noting that at no point were actual cigarettes ever used on set.
Mother Jones writes that the artist hands her “young models” burning incense, cheese sticks, and chalk to give the illusion of smoking — as seen in the video below. A healthy dose of “digital magic” also reportedly makes the smoking images possible.
Watching the children hold their incense and chalk just so evokes that signature image by Sally Mann in which her eldest daughter holds a faux cigarette with an expression well beyond her years. No digital magic required.
Watch the behind the scenes video of Frieke Janssens’ “Smoking Kids”: