On the 21st June 2020 at 11:38AM, Hanan Levin (@adoralevin) contacted us on Instagram. Upon inspecting his page, we discovered a 10-year project consisting of 2,648 artworks, created by over 1,000 artists. The images had been devised using a range of mediums, styles, subject matters, formats and, quite evidently, vary in quality. However, one element remained consistent among all of them – they all featured, or more accurately starred, his only daughter – Adora Levin.
After scurrying through the catacombs of the internet we soon discovered that ‘The Adora Art Project’ wasn’t simply an arts page on Instagram but a multi-faceted online repository of photographs, artworks, videos, music and books, which are spread over nearly 50 different platforms or sub-sections.
These would include:
- Main Tumbler Blog (which has over 40 sub-sites)
- Website #1 (Main)
- Website #2 (Secondary)
- Facebook Page
- Sound Cloud
Contained within these various modes of social media you can find nearly 3,000 artworks, 245 videos, 51 songs, 3 books, thousands of photographs and blogs. The thought of attempting to wade through the many components of this project is certainly a daunting prospect – the scale is utterly vast.
Yet, despite this immense volume of materials and the consistency by which they have been published over such an extensive period, the project has seemingly failed to gain a large viewership. While the Instagram has managed to accrue over 13,600 Followers, every other platform employed has not received the same level of attention. After nearly 14 years on YouTube, the Adora Levin account has received just 23,668 views (which are spread over hundreds of videos); Twitter a mere 550 followers; The Facebook Page only 181 likes, while Soundcloud has a rather dismal 9 listeners.
Now, this isn’t that unusual. Countless websites, social media accounts and artistic projects go underneath the radar for a multitude of reasons: a lack of time, dedication, organisation, financial input, or lack of content. However, Hanan Levin is not lacking any of these qualities. He works full-time on the project, posting, sorting, and organizing its many components. Furthermore, it hasn’t lacked content or consistency, as posts have been made daily for nearly a decade. Well then, maybe it’s a lack of finances? Art and social media management are an expensive business after all. Nope, that’s not it either as Hanan has spent $50,000 on the project so far.
So, why has the ‘Adora Art Project’ not gained any traction? Why has it been lost within the many manifolds of online media and become an internet obscurity? While time, dedication and money don’t create any certainties for success, there must be something going wrong for a project of this scale, that has continued for such a length of time, to go relatively unnoticed…
In our interview with Hanan he would state the following when asked about why the project hasn’t taken off:
What could this inherent flaw be? An absence of effective marketing? The quality of the artworks produced? Or maybe it is the subject matter itself that has not resonated with internet users?
Whatever the answer to this question may be, the Adora Art Project has ultimately not become the ‘multi-billion-dollar’ idea that Hanan had once dreamed of. However, it has nonetheless attracted a plethora of dedicated content creators over the years. Hundreds of amateur (and semi-professional) artists have either reached out to, or been reached by, Hanan to create renditions of Adora’s likeness.
While some artists have manifested their own ideas within their work, many have used the Adora Art Wish List to gather inspiration on who Adora should be with, look like, or where she should be placed. Like an Adora Doll the artist plays with the likeness of the child and places her within an array of pop-culture references.
These are just a few examples that Hanan has posted on the projects Wishlist:
- Kissing Sailor Victory Day Adora
- Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ Adora
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer Aodra
- Hotel California Adora
- Captain Picard Adora
- Battleship Potemkin Adora
- Gucci Adora
- Pulp Fiction Poster Adora
While the human subject of these requested images remains the same, each proposal varies in its principal theme. From movies, music, literature and celebrities, few stones have been left unturned. Adora has sat on the lap of Michael Jackson, made to look like Beyoncé and featured within classic paintings such as Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.
This has created quite the sporadic collection of images, in which anything and everything seems to be possible. Such unpredictability has led to some rather bizarre constructions, including Adora being cooked alive in a pot, while another illustrates her spontaneously combusting. When I asked Hanan where these ideas had come from, he would explain that the use of cannabis had enabled him to pull these concepts from the ether – ultimately, ‘that’s how the whole project started.’
The Adora Archive is another important component of this project that should be examined. While the projects artworks are displayed here too, they are not the primary focus. Instead, Adora’s life (from birth to this current moment) are explored in more depth through the many photographs/videos which Hanan (and others) have taken over the years. From needing oxygen moments after her birth, wearing nappies, sleeping or even her toilet training have all been documented. Later years depict Adora playing at the park, meeting friends, taking part in activities or going on vacation.
The concept of chronicling one’s life or that of another person’s is nothing new. Since mankind has had the capacity to record stories, either through the written word or the pictorial arts, we have attempted to understand and re-tell the varying stages of life. However, how we achieve this has radically changed. No longer are we jotting important details within a manuscript or creating a tapestry to show the meaning of an event to those around us. Instead, we can take, edit, and store an almost unlimited number of photographs and videos. While the Adora Art Project certainly demonstrates the effectiveness of these new mediums, through their ability to capture each moment, it too brings into question whether we should?
Should parents be allowed to document the lives of their children, publish them, and then provide access for any internet user to view? In a world where we do not know the identity and motivations of those we interact with online, is this a safe and sensible practice? In a society which is now beginning to adjust to the internet-age, must we rethink the rights and legal parameters of children on the world-wide-web.
While The Adora Project may be an exception, in terms of scale, it is not the only example of a parent placing their child’s information online from a very young age.
In 2010, The Internet Security Company AVG surveyed 2200 mothers from North America, The EU5, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and found that 81% of children under the age of two have a digital profile or footprint online. Furthermore, 7% of babies/toddlers have an email address created for them by their parents, and 5% have a social network profile.
The digital footprint of an individual has and will continue to become an increasingly important factor when considering what we should and should not post online. Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google, 2001-2011) has predicted ‘that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.‘ While this is a rather dystopian world view, it does highlight the extent by which our online activities have repercussions and the lengths we might have to go to, to erase our childhood online activity.
While the projects Truman Show-esque design highlights certain interesting motifs such as, youth, growth, and the process of rearing children, it should be asked at what cost? While many parents may expose their children (or their information) from an early age, and will likely and almost inevitably continue to do so, the parameters by which a parent(s) has legal precedent over their offspring will may be challenged in the years to come.
What remains questionable is that Hanan has continued this project despite recognizing that issues surrounding internet privacy and security have become an even greater concern since he initially set out to make Adora ‘the most painted girl in the world’. While Hanan has stated that ‘there are parts of it [the project] that she was fully participating with and she loved’, it remains curious as to why the curation of artworks has persevered even though ‘she didn’t really care for it’? …Stranger still is for a parent to believe that the only scenario in which their daughter might view this project negatively is ‘if she becomes deranged’.
Yet, The Adora Art Project continues to be one of the longest running artistic experiments to depict the parent-child relationship. Upon inspecting this collection of work, one cannot help but be impressed by the scale of this operation and the extended period it has lasted for. However, due to the nature of its subject, the project leaves many ethical questions unanswered.
The intensity with which this project has focused on a young child has left me feeling very unsettled and awkward. I cannot help but feel concerned for Adora, her mental wellbeing and physical safety, after witnessing the extent to which her likeness has been made available to be viewed and reproduced. In light of recent events, it has become more important than ever to consider the rights and security of our children and question any who may knowingly or unknowingly place them in harms way. Each viewer must therefore decide for themselves the degree to which this project can claim artistic and social merit, or raise concerns.