Doll, Dummy, Double
My ongoing mannequin series started with my interest in mimicry and resemblance, which is explored in the context of the doll, figurine, dummy or automaton as our inanimate and mute “double”. Usually cast from real bodies, a mannequin may be considered a kind of photograph in itself, and similarly to the photographic image, mirrors and echoes the socioeconomic conditions of its time.
These anthropomorphic objects, these likenesses of ourselves, have the ability to attract, captivate, emulate, trick and even discomfort. They occupy a remarkable position in our visual landscape—as idealistic tableaux behind shop windows, as informative artefacts in museum displays, or as objects for play inside a child’s doll house—and make us think about the impermanence of our youth, appearance and constantly changing attitude to human form in regards to its cult and exhibition value.
Looking at the intersection of the simulacrum and truthful accounts of the world, when photographed, many differences between an actual person and its fabricated duplicate tend to diminish due to the camera’s ability to capture them frozen in time and space alike. Photography facilitates a dimension within both appear like they could take off at any moment into movement again, confounding the spectator, at least temporarily, making them wonder if the model is alive or not.
The picture as a theatre of mystification, with as subject the human analogue and the ambiguous presence surrounding it, offers countless ways to elicit palpable associations, stories, fantasies, or even desires. This might explain why so many photographers across decades have repeatedly employed the mannequin motif, not only as means of representing humanity, but also to raise questions about what it means to be human and the deceptiveness of appearances.