Here's one Halloween costume option that you won't see in the infant section: baby Saddam Hussein.
Ronda Kaysen: But that didn't stop Danish artist Nina Maria Kleivan from making one of her own and then photographing her infant dressed up like the Iraqi dictator. She also dressed her daughter like Adolf Hitler -- and a host of other 20th-century tyrants. The photo essay, called "Potency," is now on display as part of an exhibit that's touring Europe.
See baby Faustina decked out in a swastika and square mustache a la Adolf Hitler, or with a leopard-print wrap a la Idi Amin. Faustina also makes appearances as Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet, Slobodan Milosevic and Chairman Mao Zedong.
"We all have evil within us," Kleivan told the Israeli paper Haaretz. "Even small children are evil towards each other. Even my daughter could end up ruling Denmark with an iron fist. The possibility is still there."
Kleivan's father survived World War II in a German prisoner-of-war camp, and her Jewish aunt lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Kleivan grew up hating Germany and wanting to kill the guard who'd tormented her dad in prison. So, when she was on extended bedrest after a difficult childbirth with her daughter, she began to channel her rage and sew costumes. She started out with characters like Catherine the Great and Napoleon, but soon turned to more modern harbingers of doom.
Her husband was less than thrilled to see his newborn baby sport a swastika. "'I'm aware that you're an artist, but this is wrong,' he told me," she said. "I've pondered that a lot myself: Could I really do this? I agree it's on the verge, especially Hitler, whom I and most others view as the incarnation of evil. He and Stalin were the hardest to do. It hurt."
Despite her daughter's early exposure to the darker side of politics, little Faustina is doing just fine these days. She's now 11 years old and shows a "remarkable talent" for the violin, according to her mom. (Faustina's name, by the way, comes from a doctor in a German legend who made a deal with the devil to sell his soul for knowledge.)
What do you think? Would you dress your baby up like a tyrant for art's sake?
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, The New York Observer, Babble.com and AM New York. She lives in New Jersey with her family. Follow her on Twitter.|