C&C and Some Smoking Kids


I was adventuring, (non-literally,) through the great interw3bz and stumbled, (also non-literally,) onto a great, wonderful, marvelous piece of work.

I love art, I make art (I think!) and I feel that more than half of the deal is appreciating the art of others. There is no creation without consumption. In fact, I try to loosely follow this law, that I’ve created for myself: THE LAW OF CONSUMPTION & CREATION. It sounds awesome, I get 10+ brownie points in the ‘intellectual!’ category, and best of all, I think it’s hugely, honestly, wonderfully true. Consume to create, create to give others something to consume, but never do more consuming than creating, and creating doesn’t work out at all without consuming.

So onto the inspirational, “Oh hey, look what I consumed!” bit:

I came across “Smoking Kids” by photographer Frieke Janssens and was completely blown away.

At first, I was hyper enthusiastic about the imagery. All of the kids were brilliantly dressed, there was a feeling of antiquity that came through the pictures via the lighting, dress and font… But then I started to think about how wrong this was. I mean, kids smoking? DUDE, YOU’RE SICK, GET OFF THE INTERNET. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY-

Then I was confused. I didn’t really understand what the works were trying to say.

I thought about it more and decided that this is probably precisely what Janssens wanted- some shock value. Over time, I learned to appreciate every single portrait. It was edgy. It had me feeling extremes of RAGE and WHAT THE HELL and OH GODS, I GET IT, I THINK, MAYBE, PERHAPS, KIND OF. That’s kind of the point!

After doing some research, I discovered a couple of things that helped clarify the artist’s purpose/methods:

  • Janssens was inspired to make this series of juvenile smokers after seeing a controversial YouTube video of an infant who smoked two packs a day. (Check my Indonesian homeboy here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4c_wI6kQyE)
  • The cigarettes and smoke in the photos are actually chalk, sticks of cheese, candles and incense

Janssens said that she used children to direct the message towards the act and effects of smoking itself, regardless of audience. Seeing an ad with an adult smoker doesn’t have much of an impact because it’s something we see in our everyday lives.

I also appreciate the duality of the beauty of the way each child is dressed and how each picture is staged, and the ugliness of smoking itself. It shows different types of people and how they are their “personalities” are hugely amplified or even defined by the way they smoke.

One of the reasons why I think people are drawn to art is because of all that it can be. Something like this proves to be just as beautiful, complex and confusing as the human mind often is, and I think there is comfort to be had in this fact. It was after seeing just this one piece of work by Janssens that I made a mental note to one day aspire to make people go from COOL to WAIT WHAT to OH OKAY THAT’S PRETTY SWEET with just one set of work.

What do you aspire to do as an artist? Do you follow something like my law of C&C as well?

♥ Jen (@jenmartine_)

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