In a recent interview, Elena Dorfman described the evolution of the series: “What began for me as a playful curiosity, how to photograph men having sex with 125 pounds of perfectly formed, synthetic female, rapidly turned into a serious exploration of the emotional ties that exist between men and women and their dolls. This exploration forced me to evaluate my own notions of love and what it means to value an object, a replacement human being, in effect, as real.”
The sex dolls pictured in the photographs are expensive and highly realistic. Owners can choose from nine facial and body types, ranging from very petite to highly voluptuous. They can choose eye color, skin tone, nail length and polish, and the style and cut of the pubic hair.
Despite the functionality of the female dolls, Dorfman quickly discovered a succession of more complex doll/owner relationships. The doll owners, often women, seem to defy our expectations and question the limits of our acceptance. One doll owner fantasizes about marrying his doll, another holds the hand of his “date” as they watch television on the couch, and yet another owns several dolls that she shares with her family as a reflection of different aspects of her own sexuality and personality.
Historically, many artists have chosen synthetic models as muse. Works by the Surrealists, and particular Hans Bellmer, David Levinthal, and Cindy Sherman all incorporate dolls to investigate distinct pathologies. They often blur the distinction between what is human and what is not. Dorfman’s work explores contemporary conditions of plasticity and sexuality and questions what is real, both in love and flesh.
Elena Dorfman currently lives and works in San Francisco, California. This exhibition marks the first one-person show of the artist’s work in France. The series, Still Lovers will also be shown at Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York, in Fall 2004. Edwynn Houk Gallery specializes in twentieth century photographs and represents the following artists and estates: Estate of Ilse Bing, Estate of Bill Brandt, Estate of Brassai, Lynn Davis, Elliott Erwitt, Estate of Dorothea Lange, Annie Leibovitz, Laura Letinsky, Danny Lyon, Sally Mann, Andrea Modica, and Estate of Brett Weston.
Edwynn Houk Gallery is currently a member of the ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America) and AIPAD (Association of International Photography Art Dealers). Mr. Houk has previously served on the board of Paris Photo and AIPAD. Over the years the gallery has exhibited at the fairs for the ADAA and AIPAD in New York, Art Basel and the Navy Pier in Chicago.