A gallery full of photographs of toddlers dressed as adults. Sounds simple but the reality is complex and disturbing. Susan Anderson's collection of oversized portraits of child beauty pageant contestants at Paul Kopeikin gallery is a thought-provoking spectacle. See children in tiny cowboy hats, caked-on makeup and hair extensions wearing forced smiles. See ribbons for "best smile" and "best eyes" along with elaborate rhinestone crowns for a few of the lucky future debutants. French style nails, fishnet stockings, these Mothers are NOT kidding around.
The question arises, are Mothers setting up their children for disappointment as they guide them to strive for unattainable perfection? Is the sky blue? My friend Deryke had some other great insights and I would've remembered some of them if he just didn't talk so fast. But, what is the difference between these Moms and other ambitious parents pushing soccer, piano, and ballet on their children tall Veronica asks? Some sort of grasp on reality perhaps?
The photographs themselves are very matter of fact with the girls posed with a set background and professional lighting. They could easily hold a prideful place above the mantle at any of the participating Mother's living rooms. The same photos here at Paul Kopeikin are looked upon mostly with horror and revulsion or at least with amazement. The issue of child pagents is here brought to light while at the same time seems to subvert the artist. The only clue we get of the artist's point of view is when we see a photo of one of the girls with a morose look next to a photo of her with a practiced smile.
Go see this show. Then talk about it. It's fun.
8810 Melrose Avenue