In a world that does not allow for full self-expression, art is the statement that reflects what goes on behind closed doors. While the world requires us to be sane, and 100% self aware and defined, real people with real emotions and real thoughts do not function that way. The development of one’s identity stops only with our demise. Otherwise, the process never ceases and we’re bound to question ourselves during the course of our lives. Some of us question themselves more than others, leading to an identity crisis.
With her exhibition “Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See”, Laurie Simmons found the place between human and doll; the place where a striking contrast of how we are required to live and how our states of mind actually are live in harmony. In her quest to explore questioning one’s self and one’s knowledge of things, Simmons utilizes photography to what seems to be eye-pleasing images, which when looked at thoroughly, the subtle and intricate details reveal shocking truths.
The exhibition itself is themed after a Japanese phenomenon called “Kigurumi”; a Japanese term for role play, where a person dresses up in full body costumes of characters mainly. Even the dolls utilized in the photographs are all inspired by various Japanese cultural marvels in our current day; lolitas, school girls, hentai… etc, all of which are popular around the world and make up one aspect of the image presented to us about youth culture in Japan.
As for the photographs themselves, the settings always present something innocent, such as nurseries, houses and walls with children drawings. These settings host the dressed-up people and their thought-provocative actions.
Taking “Blond/Pink Dress/Standing Corner” (2014) as an example, the doller seems to be standing in a nursery, with a blue wall and childish drawings of the sun and cars. The doller, however, is standing in the corner in a striking pink latex dress and high boots, with a pose of worry or anxiety.
Whereas in “Blue Hair/Red Dress/Green Room/Arms Up” (2014), the doller is wearing a mini red latex dress with high heel boots, stretching her arms on a chair with an expressive view to her private parts. There is a correlation in this to Hentai, which is soft porn that usually consists of cartoon characters or children-beloved icons, which emphasizes the moral deviation of the 21st century with its technological advancements and filthy desires.
The contradictions of the playful, subtle imagery in that art piece is available throughout all the pieces in the exhibition. While the concept of Kigurumi is an acquired taste, Simmons’s work explores modern existence throughout this phenomenon; themes include isolation, identity crisis, new culture based on lack of personal communication, along with the human body through loneliness.
Human dolls might not be what everybody looks for, but Laurie Simmons makes sure she emphasizes what’s wrong with our world today through one of its niche occurrences; dressing up, looking perfect and hiding behind what the world asks you to do.