In his novel, The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson seems to have hit upon an unexplored corner of the art world. There aren't many contemporary performance art pieces that involve children. One exception, by the Toronto-based artists' workshop Mammalian Diving Reflex, is Haircuts by Children, in which 10- and 11-year-olds are given a few days' training in cutting hair and then fanned out to salons to give free cuts to anyone adventurous enough to let them. The show, which has traveled to ten cities around the world, has gathered positive reviews from critics and salon customers alike.
But throughout the ages, the use of children in art has been controversial, though the sensitive points of why have shifted over time.
From Shakespeare to Dakota Fanning
The use of child actors has stirred passions since at least Elizabethan times, when "boy players" filled the roles of boy and girl children and adult women. These actors were boys, usually between the ages of 8 and 12, who were ...