Prix Pictet Exhibition 24th May 2014 : Part One

2: Prix Pictet Exhibition, V&A, 24th May 2014

Part One – Laurie Simmons

The theme for the 5th Year of this Competition was “Consumption” with 11 photographers being shortlisted. Information about them is here . The Prix Pictet website states

Consumption lies at the heart of the Prix Pictet’s mission to bring global attention to what we believe is the greatest challenge facing humankind today: the issue of environmental sustainability.

I thought the concept was stretched quite far by some of the short-listed entries such as …..

Laurie Simmons

Simmons’ subject is a customized, high-end, life-size love doll. I know that some men use them but I’ve never seen one in actuality. Some members of our group found the images disturbing. I was fascinated by them. They seem so real and, at first, I thought they were actual women dressed/posing like a doll.

Translucent skin, large, soulful eyes, soft, plump, glistening lips. Of course I was reminded of Japanese Geishas, although they are so much more than love dolls – skilled in many different arts with their white faces seeming like a mask. The story is here. The book is printed on a special paper to evoke the touch of a Love Doll’s skin.

Simmons has had a long, photographic relationship with dolls, including, more recently, people who dress as dolls. She uses dolls as surrogates for an interrogation of the human condition and the nature of identity – a visual metaphor in human form. I was fascinated by the love doll because she perfectly fits a poem I wrote many years ago:-

Rubber Doll

Love your rubber doll,
Compose her limbs around you.
Blank face; empty head,
Frozen in her stillness,
There to do with what you will.
Loose, lolling, lifeless. Except where it matters.

Moist wetness; smooth sheath enfolding.

Place all your fantasies upon her.
She can take them.
She has no brains; no feelings;
No screaming in the night to haunt your dreams.

Love her – for she cannot love herself.
No Romeo for her. No shining knight in armour.

Watch here; feel her. For she is yours to do
With what you will.

The poem must have been waiting for Laurie Simmons!

I found this video interview from a few years ago

I have used dolls in my photography, almost reluctantly because, at first, it seemed like a cliché until, somehow, they became real and I could project my thoughts onto them. I keep wondering how else I might use them.

In the meantime, I will have to move on to part two of this Exhibition write-up.