Hawk Swanson discovered an online forum maintained by a community of primarily hetero-outsider presenting men who own life-like dolls made of a PVC skeleton and silicone flesh. Inspired by the fulfillment they found in their relationships with “synthetics” over “organics,” the artist commissioned the production of a silicone doll in her likeness. She later left Amber Doll unattended at a number of sites, allowing the public to explore and interact—often violently—without interference. Amber Doll’s passivity seemed to provide passersby with unwitting consent. The Amber Doll Project that followed became a lived-performance with two categories of output. The first comprised raw snapshots, videos, and correspondence with doll husbands that documented the artist’s relationship with her doll and the growing difference between their bodies. The second was their collaborative conceptual photographs, video vignettes, and interactive installations questioning agency and objectification. The project dramatized how femininity can be activated within a heteropatriarchal sphere as a site of political agency as well as a site of complicity, cruelty, and sadomasochistic pleasure.


Amber Doll