The Lying Gun and The Love Doll

Sink/Ivy Wallpaper, 1976

Sink/Ivy Wallpaper, 1976

Laurie Simmons.  I remember watching a documentary done by PBS’s Art 21 about Laurie Simmons and her work years ago.  It stuck with me but I had never looked into it more deeply until I saw an article in the resurfacing 12/10/12 New Yorker written by Calvin Tomkins surveying her life and work (just looked up Calvin Tomkins and holy moly does this guy have an impressive list of names on his wikipedia page).

White Shoes/Black Room, 1978

White Shoes/Black Room, 1978

Woman/Green Shirt/Red Barn, 1979

Woman/Green Shirt/Red Barn, 1979

Simmons sees herself not as a photographer, but as an artist using a camera as a tool.  She sets up situations and captures them in pictures that when complete can be both perceived and printed at any scale.

Untitled (Eye to Eye), 1983

Untitled (Eye to Eye), 1983

These posed images, in her earlier work, were a still moment amid a flurry of props and wall papers, photos, and furniture being intermingled.  The work later turned to life sized dolls, an array of ventriloquist dummies, and inanimate objects placed on legs at both tiny and life sized scales.  

Walking House (Color), 1989

Walking House (Color), 1989

Lying Gun, 1990

Lying Gun, 1990

Black Bathroom/April 16, 1997, 1997

Black Bathroom/April 16, 1997, 1997

The Instant Decorator (Yellow Kitchen), 2003

The Instant Decorator (Yellow Kitchen), 2003

The Instant Decorator (Lavender Bathroom), 2004

The Instant Decorator (Lavender Bathroom), 2004

The Love Doll/Day 12 (Bathtub), 2010

The Love Doll/Day 12 (Bathtub), 2010

Some of Simmons' more recent work centers around The Love Doll.  She discovered this doll in Japan and instantly knew that it was perfect for her work.  Laurie brushes aside the dolls original purpose and spends her time working with the doll trying to figure out how to display a day in the life.  What would a day in the life of a human sized doll be like?  Playing dress up seems appropriate, so why not bathing and running around outside?

The "Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See" series is the most recent work Simmons has put out there and, now that it has been created, seems like an obvious next step from "The Love Doll" series.

"Blue Hair Red Belt Blue Dress Orange Room" 2014

"Blue Hair Red Belt Blue Dress Orange Room" 2014

"Orange Hair Snow Close Up," 2014

"Orange Hair Snow Close Up," 2014

You may notice that although the faces in these photos seem more like a cartoon than the faces the Love Dolls possess, their bodies seem more life like.  These are women called "Dollers," dressed up as characters. 

Dollers can become closely bonded with their Kigurumi identities and often feel more at home in their costume personas than their “real” selves. It can be difficult to see out of the masks’ eyeholes so the characters are sometimes led around by the hand making them seem even more fragile and vulnerable.
— Laurie Simmons

You can read more about this series at Salon 94's www.salon94.com

Each step Simmons takes next in her work seems to make complete sense, and there are many series that I did not touch on here. Check out more of her work at her website www.lauriesimmons.net.