Exhibited at Studio 1.1, London, 2006
Text written by Studio 1.1
In her first series of paintings, ‘Boys’, Annie Kevans recreated tyrants and dictators as wide-eyed toddlers. Her second series, ‘Girls’, questions our collusion in the deification and commodification of girls such as Britney Spears and Shirley Temple and looks at the continuing media-led sexualisation of childhood. Kevans' paintings are displayed as posters in a young girl's bedroom, which features highly sexualised child-star-branded products, marketed specifically at children. This unsettling juxtaposition makes for uncomfortable viewing.
Whereas the boys had to (often literally) make a name for themselves as Pol Pot or Hitler, the girls were found, sought out; their image given to them with help from Mum, Dad and the talent scout. While the dictators’ childhoods were imagined, those of the child-stars are even now before us not just in films and videos but in the consistent tenacity with which their youth is maintained. Executed in deft and delicate brushstrokes, there’s a melancholy in these near monochrome portraits. The process of (self) invention, innocence and culpability touches both series differently.
The despots’ pasts are lost to us, the girls’ futures just as much lost to themselves, transfixed as they are in youth and beauty, leaving truth far behind. Often startlingly sexualised, they stare out of their world into ours. Innocents accusing us: for in forming part of their eager audience how far are we from being blameless?
Annie Kevans is looking for more photos of this show. If you have any, please contact the artist via the Contact page on this site. Thank you!