Artists are increasingly using doll-like human effigies to explore politics and gender in contemporary culture, ranging from radical statement to sophisticated critique. Play with Me showcases this appeal of animating the inanimate as well as the multifarious and fascinating ideas that dolls bring to life – from the way female forms have been objectified to the way dolls generate ethical and political debate to the way they represent the self.
Unlike sculptures, dolls offer a living and open construct of the human figure. And artists are reacting to this human form in a manner thatʼs never been seen before, constituting an exciting new direction in contemporary art.
In her new book, Play with Me: Dolls, Women and Art, journalist Grace Banks brings together profiles and interviews with over 40 artists who are united by their shared use of doll-like-forms to explore and subvert the representation of women in visual culture. From Laurie Simmons, who photographs ‘Dutch Renaissance’ style portraits of human-size silicone sex dolls in everyday settings, to Jordan Wolfson, whose controversial animatronic artwork, Female Figure will only move when someone makes eye contact with it.
Available from Laurence King.
Main image: Pandemonia – Balloon Saloon | Photo: Simon Cave