Laurie Simmons – Playing With Dolls

Laurie Simmons is no stranger to the world of photographing dolls. Laurie’s career has been shaped by her work with fashion dolls and figurines, and even making a film starring Meryl Streep opposite several ventriloquist dummies, But the subject matter of her most recent work is of a much larger scale to her usual models.

Day 8, Lying On Bed

Day 8, Lying On Bed

“The Love Doll” is the newest photographic exhibit from the New York-based artist. Simmons’ subjects in the series of photographs are Asian-manufactured “love dolls”: high-quality, anatomically correct, silicone dolls.

Day 9, Shiso Soda

Day 9, Shiso Soda

Many companies in the United States and overseas manufacture these dolls for prurient interest as well as to be used as life size fashion models, but a number of the most lifelike (and therefore, most expensive) examples hail from Japan. Simmons was first introduced to the dolls while visiting Tokyo and learned of their construction and customizability. These dolls are a far cry from their plastic and latex predecessors featuring realistic skin texture and generous (though stiff) joint articulation. “The Love Doll” features two of these customized dolls from Japan in a series of poses attempting to animate and humanize the inanimate.

Day 11, Yellow

Day 11, Yellow

Much of Simmons’ work follows the tradition of fashion doll and ball jointed doll photography, inserting the characters into their own worlds and creating a fantasy setting, history, and journey for the characters. But Simmons’ characters aren’t 55 centimeters tall. Their world doesn’t exist on a desktop or a dollhouse or diorama. The lifesize dolls were created to fit in our world to serve a purpose alongside people, in some cases as a surrogate for a living person. The scenes in which the dolls are cast are, for the most part, natural to us, which is simultaneously the most logical and the most irrational place for the characters to exist.

Day 20, Bride

Day 20, Bride

Day 25, The Jump

Day 25, The Jump

The simple truth behind the existence and use of the dolls, however, is present in some of the photographs. Simmons included an image of the second doll in the collection on its “birthday,” at its unboxing. Dressed in a nightshirt and packaged in a plain brown box, little doubt is left as to the destiny that would have befallen this doll and that lies waiting for so many other love dolls shipped to customers around the world.

Day 27/Day 1, New In Box

Day 27/Day 1, New In Box

Day 29, Nude With Dog

Day 29, Nude With Dog

Simmons has created an array of situations in which the dolls exhibit their comfort and demeanor in specific surroundings. Swimming, resting, sleeping and playing are all given their domain in which the subject expresses their actions. Other works highlight the detail of the nude dolls’ bodies, innocent and helpless of their situation, but what some may consider perverse and unnatural for their presence.

Day 30/Day 2, Meeting

Day 30/Day 2, Meeting

Nearly-living works of art, or just “living” in a really expensive dollhouse? Vote below.

The artist’s personal webpage, page on the exhibit, and images of the photographs.
Article on designboom.
Article at NYTimes.
Salon94 exhibition page.

(3) (2)
5 votes

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