Photo series of baby dressed up as ruthless dictators

Baby-Mussolini Artist Nina Maria Kleivan dressed her baby daughter Faustina up in outfits of infamous dictators and took photos. She says the photos are a reminder of how “we all begin life the same. We all have every opportunity ahead of us. To do good, or inexplicable evil.”

Nina Maria Kleivan’s "Potency," Exploring The Meaning Of Evil (Thanks, Dollyhead Books!)


  1. Wow… risky stuff. In Winnipeg, a mother lost custody of her kids because he daughter was sent to school with Nazi symbols on her skin (in felt marker).

    And now this lady dresses her kid up like Hitler. Ouch.

    I wonder how little Faustina is going to feel about this when she gets older.. I would be pissed.

      1. And yet, can you really say that, in this time of often overly-paranoid child protection service agencies, this isn’t at least somewhat risky?

        I’m not saying the Winnipeg case is one of excessive paranoia. The parents there are undoubtedly nasty, gross people I’d never want to meet. But it’s a very troubling case, in that what they did is basically a thought crime. How would that logic apply to parents teaching their kids communism in the fifties and sixties, or all the teabaggers currently teaching their kids to hate and fear Islam? Should all their children be shoved into the foster case system too?

        1. “…or all the teabaggers currently teaching their kids to hate and fear Islam? Should all their children be shoved into the foster case system too?”


          1. >>”…or all the teabaggers currently teaching their kids to hate and fear Islam? Should all their children be shoved into the foster case system too?”
            Yes.<< That may well be the most illiberal thing I've read on BoingBoing in a year. Take people's children away because they don't agree with your politics? Please think of the consequences of that. Please.

          2. Thank you for taking a moment of facetiousness seriously. You, Sir (or Ma’am), win the No-Prize Prize of the Day.


            (Smiley indicates lack of seriousness, BTW)

    1. > I wonder how little Faustina is going to feel about this when she gets older.. I would be pissed.

      The girl is eleven years old today, and according to todays “Dagbladet” (a Norwegian newspaper) she is pissed about the one picture that no English language newspaper dares to show – the tenth in the series: Faustina as herself. No uniform, no nothing. Stark naked.

      You can see the “Faustina as herself” photo at the photographer’s website, or in the “Dagbladet” slide show at

      You might want to contemplate the fact that of the first one hundred web newspapers I checked on this story (after reading the story in Dagbladet), two thirds of them displayed Faustian both as Hitler, Mussolini and other dictators, and almost all the rest displayed a single picture of the Hitler variation. None of these pictures were considered objectionable, at least not enough to deny their publishing.

      But the photo of that four month old baby girl, as herself, is too objectionable for each and every one of the first one hundred to censor it. We have stronger objections to a baby girl than to Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Mussolini, …

      Maybe that illustrates the photographer’s point quite well.

  2. First thought: brilliant concept. Second: What an odd resemblance in both appearance and demeanor. Third: Awwwww, Wook at teh cute babbies!

  3. Ah, but now the baby has gotten a taste for spiffy uniforms and the notion of having minions and legions of darkness. She’s doomed.

  4. I think this work is both poignant and beautiful. It reminds me, for its shock value, of the huge portrait of Myra Hindley which, when you got up close to it, resolved into thousands of little childrens’ handprints which made up the image – this work gives me the same feeling in the pit of my stomach

  5. Most teenagers worry that their parents will bust out the butt-nekkid baby pictures and show their dates. This girl’s anxiety will be…somewhat more complicated.

  6. Ha, ha, that’s brilliant.

    Um, InsertFingerHere, surely you are not being serious, are you? The differences between the two phenomena are huge, especially in light of the fact that the parents of the Winninpeg child were adamant white supremacists, while the photographer is simply making a insightful sociopolitical statement through the creative and crafty use of art and brilliant juxtaposition of subject.

    1. > “the onion already did this in 2001”

      The girl is eleven years old today, and was four months old when the pictures were made, so I doubt that the mother has plagiarized The Onion. First time the pictures were put on an exhibition was nine years ago, so I’d rather think the plagiarizing goes the other way around.

  7. I call BS

    two reasons
    1) this is trying to portray that we’re all born the same. whether nature (blank slate) or nurture (environment) — we’re not the same. we differ in genetics on nature side and we differ in social / economical / parental up-bringing. Living in good economic times almost guarantees one to not become an “evil” dictator.

    2) this is trying to portray that as babies, we’re born moral/nice/good. In fact , developmental studies show that we’re more like animals. Kids below certain age is characteristically the same as sociopaths. It’s with age and proper nurture that we develop our empathy , sympathy, self control, mercy, concepts of fairness.

    Just see Stanford prison experiment, to see what our nature when put in certain environment is capable of.

    What’s with people (especially media/news) trying to make complex issues into something simple black/white . To do so, is to deny the existence of complex issues and the need to study and understand them and develop complex solutions. We need to break away from our tendency to favor simple solutions (whether economics/ health/ political). Just because it’s easy to implement doesn’t mean it’s the correct solution.

  8. How one sided a selection… Where’s the Bush or Mugabe suit? The papal vestments?

    Nevertheless, very entertaining.

  9. It is interesting that all is permitted when someone who is somehow seeking attention identifies themself as an artist. Maybe I am just tired and grumpy, I see little art or message here. I do see potential pop moral outrage and pulp news worthiness of a mother dressing her infant daughter as a succession of bloodthirsty mega murderers.

  10. @15- 2) this is trying to portray that as babies, we’re born moral/nice/good.

    Did we read the same article?? She states the exact opposite, that we’re all born with a capacity for evil. “We all have evil within us. Even small children are evil towards each other”

    And she resumes the findings behind both the Stanford and Milgram experiments quite acurately. The participants were mostly people from healthy, educated environments, not people ravaged by wars or abuse. A large percentage adopted sadistic and cruel behaviour because they were placed in positions of authority OR because they were freed from personal responsibility, which is exactly what the photographer is expressing (read her last quote).

  11. Okay, I bit.

    I forget that sometimes, somewhere, people on the internet aren’t always earnest.

  12. I’d like to do a quick nit-pick about the Zimbardo Stanford experiment. As a psych PhD student, I’ve had to read and hear about it in lots and lots of courses (and even saw a short film made with Zimbardo about it).
    The experiment had poor methodology and was set up poorly. Zimbardo clearly sides with the prison guards and kind of sets them up as super powerful. He doesn’t set up proper controls in the experiment. His conclusions are also controversial and aren’t completely supported by the results. Plus he comes off as a jerk and he’s definitely quite full of himself.
    For a well thought out experiment with good methodology, the BBC did a show called ‘The Experiment’ with some psychological researchers (basically paying for the expensive research).
    I liked the baby dictator art though.

  13. “Congratulations! We have chosen your baby to be dressed as a Nazi Officer, pushing a wheelbarrow with a Jewish baby into an oven.” -Bruno

  14. The comments here are way more intelligent than what I was reading on Ha’aretz a few days ago.

  15. i’m surprised there was no Kim Jong-il pics, assuming outfits are readily available in that size, and pre-fitted for diapers

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