Seven Old Men - 2010
Seven Old Men is a collection which problematizes notions long codified within traditional “doll culture”. Sarah has negated the concept of an archetypal youthful feminine form altogether, in favour of representing youth and beauty’s binary oppositions: old age and the grotesque. The “Male Dolls” stand (or sit) as uncomfortable monuments to age, physical decay, and ultimately death. No detail is overlooked. Each sun-spot, mole, vein, wrinkle and whisker has been carefully conceived. The ornate couture party dresses which often adorn female dolls have given way to stark, minimalist clothing; somber, simplistic, and beautiful in its appropriateness. The polymer-clay figures manage to walk gently on the line between hyper-reality and surrealism, blending these disparate concepts seamlessly. Their meticulously rendered heads, hands, and feet momentarily betray the viewer’s visual expectation and comprehension, while their soft, elongated, incongruous torsos and limbs suggest an unreal realm where natural growth is replaced by mutation. Essentially, the “realism” of traditional porcelain dolls, has been expounded upon and juxtaposed with the corporal abjection inherent in the home-crafted “rag doll” to balance opposites; this suggests various and sometimes conflicting readings.
The dolls themselves evoke many thoughts. For one, these dolls may replace the role of juvenile female dolls in the normative conditioning of children. Might this suggest that the elderly among us are in fact in the hands of children, both literally and figuratively? This perceptual “role reversal” creates a particular discomfort for children and adults alike, as the standard doll/owner relationship has long been that of a young girl with a female doll. For a child to accept the “responsibility” of caring for an elderly figure, the tone of play immediately takes on a more serious and affecting slant. Here, we find the realities of old age clearly expressed. The dolls may be acting as a preparatory tool: to allow thoughts of the future to permeate the minds of the presently young.
** All Items in the Seven Old Men collection have been sold. Representation by Pari Nadimi Gallery