by Rebecca Martínez
Babies create strong emotions for the bearer, holder, and observer. I have discovered this holds true even when it is known the baby is not real.
I am photographing dolls that are created to look like living babies. They are constructed and weighted to feel like infants, which includes a head that must be supported while in one's arms. They are the most powerful objects I have ever worked with, I am struck by the strong and palpable emotional reactions they produce. Besides the dominant biological instinct to nurture, occasionally I witness revulsion (the beholder feels the baby is dead); hostility; and for some it is an opportunity to behave inappropriately with a “baby.”
There are roughly three main components to this series:
Carrie Fisher has been my primary muse with these dolls. She utilized her talents as a performer and writer to create scenarios inspired by these artificial entities. I am in awe of her powers of transformation and her ability to express and create compelling, raw, and emotive scenes with these babies. Carrie drew from her dark humor, deep wit, and creative genius to construct scenes of a haggard homemaker, a bored mother, and a beautiful, sophisticated housewife, all the while acting out forbidden thoughts and impulses with brave intelligence. Her ability to perform as instinctively and without censorship for still photography as she does on the screen and stage has been a pleasure to capture.
In a second set of images, I bring the babies out in different public and social situations and photograph people's responses. When I am with a “baby,” my status changes in the world, I am mother, grandmother, aunt. I am constantly approached and inquiries are made about my baby. I always explain that the baby is not real; I inform them that this is a project. I ask if they would like to hold the baby. My photographs capture their reactions and are not staged. People take the baby and create their own narratives.
Thirdly, I have been photographing the subculture of women who create and love these dolls. For several years I have been attending their conventions and events. Most of the women I have encountered who are part of this community are exceptionally loving nurturers and caregivers. They have an especially strong passion for babies and this is a method to keep them in their lives. Some create or collect these dolls because they cannot continue to give birth to living babies, or cannot have their own, or have lost a child.
This series is the latest incarnation of my work to explore different aspects of artifice and our impulses to create illusionary situations and objects to fulfill various needs-emotional, spiritual, psychological.