After seeing the viral YouTube video of a two-year-old Indonesian boy who chain smoked 40 cigarettes a day, Belgian photographer
Frieke Janssens got an idea for this photo series titled
“Smoking Kids” is a compelling and slightly disturbing personal project by Frieke...
“The video highlighted the cultural differences between the East and west, and questioned notions of smoking being a mainly adult activity. Adult smokers are the societal norm, so I wanted to isolate the viewer’s focus upon the issue of smoking itself. I felt that children smoking would have a surreal impact upon the viewer and compel them to truly see the acts of smoking rather than making assumptions about the person doing the act.”
Frike feels that the culture of smoking has a retro feel, hence her photos capture a time period of Mad Men, when smoking on a plane or in a restaurant was not uncommon. Her photographs also capture the fine line between the beauty and ugliness of smoking. And in case you are horrified about this whole thing, no real cigarettes were used on set, assuring the safety of the children. Instead, chalk and sticks of cheese were used as props, while candles and incense provided the wisps of smoke.