Sunday, 17 January 2010

So Truly Real

Creepy doesn't touch the sides when it comes to these dolls. The manufacturers hawk them on the promise of 'An astounding new level of realism in a So Truly Real baby':

The slightly mottled, translucent look of a newborn's skin is achieved through skillful hand-painting. Hand-applied hair, whispy eyelashes, and tiny, handpainted fingernails and toenails complete the illusion of life.

One of the most eerie things about the dolls is that they come with their own hospital bracelet. I've still got mine somewhere, a tiny authenticating memento. An object which stands in for a whole period of time I will never remember, does it prove I'm real? What's the appeal of these dolls, their novelty? Do lonely women buy them as a hobby? A hobby which gets out of hand as they hope to catch a glimpse of their baby in their peripheral vision, where they can pretend for a moment that Cherish is quietly breathing away, warm and safe in the haven that's been created. The makers also supply 'Little Umi' first baby Orangutan in the L'il Bit of Lovin Collection. This one perhaps for those who don't want to invest in the fad of adopting alive Capuchin monkeys well fleshed out in the documentary My Monkey Baby (2009 dir Lynne Alleyway). In this series it appears that the monkey stands in for the child. God help anyone who refers to the monkey as a monkey. One couple is mortally offended when a cafe owner refuses to seat and serve them. This kind of reaction serves as a punctum to the illusion they have created. Little girl monkeys are dressed up and make-up and nail varnish is applied and become little girls who will never grow up and go to the prom. Or for that matter who will never come home pregnant, with a drug habit or with an unsuitable boyfriend in tow. The baby monkey encapsulates the fantasy of childhood. So there is a sadness and a safety in the owners' desire for these creatures. Here the monkey is at once a reminder of the uncontrolable and at the same time the picture of safety and buttoned down desire. This is a bizarre process of removal where monkey doll stands in for monkey real live pet/doll standing in for real live human. Our fantasies here are a sprawl.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


I saw Burn at the Berlin Bienale in 2005. It's by Reynold Reynolds and Patrick Joley (2002 16mm 10 mins) The occupants of the house do nothing as the house burns around them. Its beautiful and makes me think of the Corman's Fall of the House of Usher, Argento's Inferno. I can't find anywhere to see the film online which is a shame.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A life cut short

Walking around Abney Park in the snow. The grave stones and monuments seen clearly now the leaves have died back. The white ground the same colour as the sky. I am drawn to the picture I took of a pair of broken columns. For many reasons I am put in mind of the symbology here: a life cut short. I think of people who died suddenly, without warning. Leaving behind those who will never meet them and only have a sense of them through other's memories. I think of the video I was shown recently of a cemetery in Haiti, a different way of honouring the dead. A chaotic maze of layered blocks, columns, claustrophobic streets, like a catacomb above ground. Tombs built up high and tottering, tiny spaces to squeeze in between and no sense of the edges. In a corner a set of bones and a shrine, black and smoky, a heavy lid pulled back and a pool of ritual water, a fathomless well. I wonder if the cemetery is still there in the form I saw it on the screen, or whether the mausoleums have crumbled, now a ruin for the dead. This is uncertain to me at present but I know for sure that in other areas people were trapped in rubble, some got out, others did not. Many have lost their homes and friends, family have gone.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010