Laurie Simmons has been playing with dolls for longer than most women. Over the past 30 years they’ve been a reoccurring obsession for the photographer. From ventriloquist dummies to household objects on legs, dolls have been her way of reflecting the narrow identities available to women. Homemaker or femme fatale, which are you?
For her latest exhibition at the Wilkinson Gallery, early photographs from Simmons’ career are being shown alongside her most recent work. Starring a new, life-sized playmate who’s as fake as they come, The Love Doll: Days 1 to 30, is a photographic study in the real and unreal.
While working in Japan Simmons picked up a silicone sex doll. A perfectly formed vision of femininity clothed in a transparent slip and accompanied by a separate box containing an engagement ring and her female genitalia. A plastic play object, but one not intended for little girls. By photographing her sex doll in a series of everyday scenes, Simmons has created a fantasy life that is far-removed from its seedier original purpose. From her box fresh arrival, she’s slowly transformed into a wholesome young girl, who reads books, hangs out with friends and enjoys her own fairy-tale wedding day. But despite her blow-job lips and vacant expression, she looks almost as misplaced in the role of compliant sex-slave as any real flesh and blood woman.
Laurie Simmons The Love Doll: Days 1-30 and Early Black and White Interiors is at the Wilkinson Gallery from June 9 to July 10.
Images copyright the artist, courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London.