Faustina as Hitler
(All images: ninakleivan.dk)
Danish-Norwegian artist Nina Maria Kleivan has chosen a graphic way of exploring the subject of evil. Kleivan, who herself was raised by a Norwegian father who had spent time in a German prison camp, dressed her baby daughter Faustina up as some of the most evil figures in the twentieth century and photographed her for an art project.
Faustina as Stalin
The idea came to her when Faustina's difficult delivery confined her to bed for months with a pelvic infection. Out of sheer boredom she started sewing together bits of cloth and created tiny costumes. She started with Napoleon, then moved on to Catherine the Great and Julius Caesar. But somehow these figures seemed too distant, too theatrical. Then on a whim she sewed a Hitler uniform, and turned a new page in photographic history.
Faustina as Mussolini
Explaining her exhibit “Potency” to Haaretz recently, Kleivan said: “We all have evil within us. Even small children are evil towards each other.” She went on to say that “You need to be conscious that your actions have consequences that impact on your fellow human beings. The people I let my daughter portray didn't give a damn about the human cost, the casualties, their thoughts caused.”
Faustina as Mao
Due to her father’s experiences as a resistance fighter, Kleivan, who was born in Oslo in 1960, grew up with a hatred of Germany. For years she carried the German prison guard’s name on a slip of paper in her pocket so that she could murder him on sight. “Even though my father stressed that you shouldn't hate anyone, not least the Germans. Hatred is a dead end."
Kleivan first exhibited the photos back in 2000 and is publishing them in a new collection of her work entitled Enigma, which covers her work from 1988 to the present. Faustina herself is now a thoroughly peaceful eleven year-old girl with a talent for the violin.
Faustina as Pinochet
The images have shocked many viewers, who have complained to Kleivan that dressing her daughter up as bloodthirsty dictators has crossed a line. “I've pondered that a lot myself,” the artist said. “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 almost caused me physical pain to pull the Nazi armband over her little arm.”
Faustina as Saddam Hussein