Frieke Janssens

Smoking Kids

Born in Brugge, Belgium, in 1980. While he studied Photography at Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design, she started to be interested in sociology, in different life styles, and how the representation of stereotypes influences facets of life. After graduating she began to work in advertising. Since then she has worked on campaigns run by multinationals such as Renault and Nestlé. Inspired by painting and comics, her photographs display an exquisite feel for detail and a delicate sense of humour tinged with surrealism.

Smoking Kids was sparked off by a well-known video of a two-year old Indonesian boy who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. The video made her think about the cultural differences between East and West and the fact that smoking is an activity reserved solely for adults. Frieke wanted to isolate the act of smoking in itself through the surreal effect that is produced in the spectator on seeing a child smoking. By coincidence, the first time she exhibited the series, the Belgian Government passed a law that prohibited smoking in bars, leading to the sensation that freedoms were restricted and the idea that adults were being treated as children. So as not to create controversy, Frieke used false cigarettes in the study. So, chalk or strips of cheese stood in for cigarettes, whilst the smoke came from candles or incense.