AMBER   HAWK   SWANSON
“Dollstock: Doll Pile Prep”
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2013
Archival Pigment Print

In 2006—lonely and seeking companionship but not yet out as queer—I discovered an online forum maintained by a community of primarily hetero-outsider men who own life-like sex dolls, RealDolls, made of a PVC skeleton and silicone flesh and penetrable in three ribbed orifices. Inspired by the fulfillment they found in their relationships with what they termed “synthetics” over “organics,” I ordered a RealDoll of my own. My doll, Amber Doll, began as a Styrofoam print-out of a digital scan of my head. Her face was then custom-sculpted and later combined with the doll manufacturer's existing, "Body #8" female doll mold. I acquired Amber Doll, herself a literal object, as a prop for my work and academic interests but also to become the companion I desired in my personal life. I abandoned Amber Doll at a number of venues, allowing the public to explore and interact—often violently—without interference. Amber Doll was able to act as a surrogate to my own experiences of objectification.

The “Amber Doll Project” became a lived-performance with two categories of output: 1.) the raw snapshots, video diaries, and correspondence with doll husbands that documented our falling into and out of love and the growing difference in our bodies as I gained weight while her measurements remained 38x26x37 inches. And 2.) our collaborative conceptual photographs, video vignettes, and interactive installations questioning agency and objectification. My continued relationship with doll husbands and other doll owners is represented in “Dollstock: Doll Pile Prep.” Dollstock is an annual threeday doll meet-up that takes place in a hunting lodge in rural Pennsylvania.
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