Smoking Kids: Photographer Frieke Janssens' Disturbing Exhibition Questions Youth Culture (PHOTOS)

01/28/2013 01:32 pm ET

In her disturbing new series at VII Gallery in Brooklyn, Belgian photographer Frieke Janssens asks viewers if the nostalgia often associated with cigarettes would look as enticing on a much younger crowd.

smoking kids

For "Smoking Kids," Janssens dressed four to nine year olds in period costumes referencing the golden age of cigarette culture. The final touch to their retro-chic ensembles was a glowing cigarette (although Janssens' are made of cheese, candles and incense instead of tobacco). According to Slate, the artist was inspired by the viral video of a baby chain smoking in Indonesia.

Although the cigarettes themselves are harmless, there is something truly disturbing about Janssen's hazy, seductive depiction of innocent children enjoying a smoke break. This is not the photographer's first time creating provocative images, however; last year she took portraits for her subjects' tombstones.

What do you think, readers? Do Janssen's photographs illuminate a hypocritical view on smoking in contemporary culture or are these photographs needlessly contentious? Let us know in the comments.

"Smoking Kids" is showing until February 8 at VII Gallery in Brooklyn.

Frieke Janssens

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