Babies create strong emotions for the bearer, holder, and observer. I have discovered this holds true even when it is known the baby is not real.
I am photographing dolls that are created to look like living babies. They are constructed and weighted to feel like infants, which includes a head that must be supported while in one’s arms. They are the most powerful objects I have ever worked with; I am struck by the strong and palpable emotional reactions they produce. Besides the dominant biological instinct to nurture, occasionally I witness revulsion (the beholder feels the baby is dead); hostility; and for some, it is an opportunity to behave inappropriately with a “baby”.
There are roughly three main components to his series:
I have been photographing the subculture of women who create and love these dolls. For several years I have been attending their conventions and events. Most of the women I have encountered who are part of this community are exceptionally loving nurturers and caregivers. They have an especially strong passion for babies and this is a method to keep them in their lives. Some create or collect these dolls because they have a large amount of children and love the baby stage of nuturing, or cannot have their own, or have lost a child.
Carrie Fisher has been my primary muse with these dolls. She utilized her talents as a performer and writer to create scenarios inspired by these artificial entities. I am in awe of her powers of transformation and her ability to express and create compelling, raw, and emotive scenes with these babies. Carrie drew from her dark humor, deep with, and creative genius to construct scenes of a haggard homemaker, a bored mother;, and a beautiful, sophisticated housewife, all the while acting out forbidden thoughts and impulses with brave intelligence. Her ability to perform as instinctively and without censorship for still photography as she does on the screen and the stage has been a pleasure to capture.
I bring the babies out in different public and social situations and photograph people’s responses. When I am with a “baby”, my status changes in the world, I am mother, grandmother, aunt. I am constantly approached and inquiries are made about my baby. I always explain that the baby is not real; I inform them that this is a project. I ask if they would like to hold the baby. My photographs capture their reactions and are not staged. People take the baby and create their own narratives.
This series is the latest incarnation of my work to explore different aspects of artifice and our impulses to create illusory situations and objects to fulfill various needs – emotional, spiritual or psychological.
Rebecca Martinez was born and raised in Los Angeles. For the majority of her career she owned a graphic design firm in San Francisco, specializing in corporate identification for a variety of prominent corporations and nonprofit organizations, winning numerous national design awards for her work. She has now fully embraced her long-time love of photography, incorporating her knowledge, experience, and training in design and illustration into her work.
Martinez has exhibited her work in solo exhibitions at San Francisco venues including SFMOMA, Sightings Gallery, and Robert Tat Gallery, where her work is represented. Her work has also been featured in group exhibitions at En Foco (NYC), Stephen Wirtz Gallery (San Francisco, CA), Richmond Art Center (Richmond, CA), Barrett Art Center (Poughkeepsie, NY), and most recently in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman (NYC). Her work is in numerous private and corporate collections, as well as the Crocker Art Museum, University Medical Center at Princeton, and Lehigh University. Martinez was awarded En Foco’s New Works Photography Fellowship Award in 2010.