Nina Maria Kleivan


Joseph Stalin “When all you see is a picture, Stalin could’ve been anyone’s kind grandfather. You can’t see the millions of people on his conscience or what a paranoid, dreadful human being he was.”

Nina Maria Kleivan’s provocative images of a baby dressed up as various famous dictators – including Hitler, Stalin and Mao – have caused something of a stir. As Kleivan says: “We are all born as a blank slate. Who knows who we will become?”

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9 thoughts on “Nina Maria Kleivan

  1. I think the concept here is very clever, and the execution successful. These dictators are all highly recognizable; their images are so ubiquitous that we almost don’t notice them anymore. We are never seeing them for the first time.

    To dress a baby like these men demands that we look at them in a fresh way, and in a way that most of us would never consider. I feel that Kleivan successfully gets her point across.

    I admit that my first reaction to these photos was amusement. Seeing babies dressed as un-baby like things is often funny. While I’m sure that many people had the opposite reaction that I did, it worked to get me to further think about and understand the actual content of the images. It seems absurd to think of a baby as a dictator; but of course Kleivan’s exact aim is to get us thinking about the fact that all of these evil men were once babies, starting life the same way as everyone else has.

  2. I think this photo series is vey clever. The description makes mention of the idea of a “blank slate.” However, when viewing these images I can’t help but to think of how they show us that these evil rulers were actually human beings. By dressing up babies to make them resemble Stalin, Hitler, and the like it makes them relatable to us in that they too were once babies and like I mentioned before it reminds us that even though they were capable of such horrible acts they were still in fact themselves human. Being able to identify with them in such a manner makes one stop and think about how all humans are capable of such evil. Although the photos are quite humorous in nature, the idea and realization behind them is quite terrifying.

  3. My first reaction to this series was that these photos were making fun of serious issues. But then I read the artist statement and understood the artist’s point. She touches on an important aspect of dictators that I think is often overlooked. The fact that dictators and murderers were once babies and children is one that is never considered when thinking of them as adults. People often think and feel as if they had always been evil or committing atrocities, but Kleivan reminds us that they were not. They too once were babies and children, young and innocent. I think Kleivan’s concept is extremely strong and original. She conveys her intent well through these images.

  4. While these photos are entertaining, i feel pointing out that these people were once children doesn’t make what they did any less terrible. If the point of the image is show that human side of this dictators then i think the series has failed to consider that the dictators humanity becomes irrelevant in comparison to the humanity of the large groups of people they have killed.

  5. I really enjoy the statement below the image because it’s so true. It’s a very powerful photograph and it makes me wonder where those powerful dictators went wrong. They look so cute when they’re that young although the mustache is throwing me off a little.

  6. My initial reaction is that I don’t much like this photograph. But when trying to understand it’s meaning I disagree with what I feel it is portraying. To me it implies that dictatorship and negative people in society are born the way that they turned out to be and with the actions that they lived out. However, it also helps me to see that it may have a meaning that relates figures in history such as Hitler with everyone else, because they were born like everyone else and had a childhood that shaped them who they were to be.

  7. Nina, this is really interesting work. Whether it be presented in a larger series, or smaller portraits, it is bound to have a controversial affect on viewers.

  8. I think this concept is very comical and a very cool philosophy to think about. The idea that no matter who a person turns out to be, they started all started like you and I. With innocence and with the idea that the world is a good place where no one can hurt you.

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