DOLLS DOLLS DOLLS

View of “Myths and Legend,” Wael Shawky, 2013-2014 Serpentine Gallery, London Courtesy Hugo Glendinning

View of “Myths and Legend,” Wael Shawky, 2013-2014
Serpentine Gallery, London
Courtesy Hugo Glendinning

Dolls are not just puppets of imagery or plastic models, but a way for an artist to highlight and point to something, Elements of emotional projection between the creator of the doll, the viewer, and the collector are drawn together through aesthetic and even ornamental acts. Concealment becomes difficult with a doll, and the object becomes haunted with the artist’s spirit—when a col¬lector shows the item in a museum, it goes beyond an exhibition and becomes a dis¬play of the inner psychologies of multiple actors, from the maker of the doll to the collector and the viewer.

In comparison with abstract sculpture, dolls more readily break with classical, preconceived images. Often, dolls’ makers rely on ornamentation and fiction to shape a kind of embodied flesh, a flesh that trans¬mits an evidence of process alongside spiri¬tual underpinnings. This f lesh of artifice signifies both a presence and absence.

Displaying dolls becomes not only an act of exhibition but also a performative act that shows present circumstances: situ¬ational actions of forgetting and a reliance on images and visual structure to fill in the blanks. Because any doll can easily embody an imagined presence while simultane¬ously signaling an absence, dolls become a remarkable strategy for visual expression. When we see dolls inside an art museum, perhaps they use the past (the static image of what once was) to critique the present, or to subvert and question memory.

Text by Song Yi
Translated by Xiaowei Wang

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Post in: Cover Features | July 1 , 2015 | Tag in: LEAP 33 | Song Yi
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