Pretty Dummy: A Study of Mannequins

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Claire

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Lena

Sometimes my projects are the result of stumbling onto a topic that grabs my attention. My first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, started out as portrait series. I love tattoos, but I’ve never been able to decide what I wanted to get permanently inked onto my body. I started just photographing people who had body art, and, while I was photographing them they would tell me the story behind their ink. Every story was unique and interesting to me, and I thought, “Well, this would make an interesting book.” The development of my second book, Mannequins: Stories of the First Supermodel, formed in a similar fashion. I was visiting Santa Barbara, and while walking along State Street, I found this very awesome antique store called Punch Vintage. I noticed that there were all these mannequin heads throughout the shop. I never noticed mannequins before, but these looked so detailed and cool that I became fascinated. Originally, I just had fun photographing them. Everywhere I went, I photographed the mannequins, and I started noticing their differences and unique traits. After a while, I started to read about their history and realized how influential they have been in our society. Over the course of writing my second book, I grew attached to these figures of the past and I decided to give them names.

 

My interests are very diverse, but if I had to boil down what drives my work it’s that I like to study topics that are unusual. Mannequins are still produced and used in brick and mortar stores, but after a certain number of years, they eventually get sold or dumped in the trash. While my book includes mostly photographs of these figures, I also wanted to explain their history. We’re very much a consumerist society, and sometimes we’re so focussed on the latest and greatest that we forget about all the incredible things from our past. Just because something is old, doesn’t mean that it’s become useless. The fact that we can still find these older items in vintage stores shows how durable and timeless these antiques are.

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