Brooke Shields with Raised Arms
Brooke Shields is widely considered to have been one of the world's most sexualized children. As a child star, she posed for photographs which, as an adult, she would try desperately to suppress. This painting forms part of the series 'Girls.'? 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 sexualization of childhood. 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. 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. The process of (self) invention, innocence and culpability touches both series differently. While the tyrants themselves were guilty, in the child-stars it is more diffuse. Often startlingly sexualized, they stare out of their world into ours. Innocents accusing us: for informing part of their eager audience how far are we from being blameless?