“A YouTube video of a chain-smoking Indonesian toddler inspired me to create this series. The video highlighted the cultural differences between the east and west, and questioned the notion of smoking as an adult activity. Since adult smokers are the societal norm, I wanted to isolate the viewer’s focus on 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 act of smoking rather than making assumptions about the person doing the act. Coincidentally, around the time I was making Smoking Kids, a law passed that banned smoking in Belgian bars. There was an outcry from the public about government intervention, freedom being oppressed, and adults being treated like children. With health reasons driving many cities to ban smoking, the culture around smoking has a retro feel, like the time period of Mad Men, when smoking on a plane or in a restaurant was not unusual. The aesthetics of smoke and the particular way smokers gesticulate with their hands and posture cannot be denied, and at the same time, there is a nod to the less attractive aspects, examining the beauty and ugliness of smoking.“—Frieke Janssens
More of Frieke Janssens here.