Raising Consciousness by Dressing Babies Outrageously

March 17, 2010

Denmark – “We all have evil within us. Even small children are evil towards each other,” Danish-Norwegian artist Nina Maria Kleivan tells Haaretz as she explains why she chose to dress up her baby daughter as the most evil historical figures of the 20th century.

The artist's baby daughter dressed up as HitlerIn the controversial photo-series “Potency,” Kleivan’s daughter Faustina, then a few months old, depicts such infamous personalities as Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Chairman Mao, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet, Slobodan Milosevic, and Adolf Hitler. The aim is to illustrate just one thing: We all begin life the same. We all have every opportunity ahead of us. To do good, or inexplicable evil. (Haaretz reports)

While many will critique this artistic statement as offensive, it seems clear ffrom the article that the artists does not idolize any of history’s most wicked leaders. In order to raise consciousness, art often attempts to shock, to draw people out of their comfort zone and make them think. This particular artistic effort may be particularly distasteful, but I do not see myself as an art critic, leaving this craft to people far more able than I am.

But I do find fault with her thesis. By dressing up a child as Hitler, she almost makes the appearance of such tyrants a matter beyond the free moral choice of the child. Are the Hitlers and the Stalins and the Pol Pots predestined, and more importantly, are their followers predestined to follow them? Read the rest of this entry »