The Love Doll by Laurie Simmons
RECAPS: What has being identified as a feminist photographer enabled for you creatively, and in what in what ways, if any, have you found it limiting?
Laurie Simmons: When I was first described that way, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was surprised to see that my small photos were read as a critique of the American housewife. I had been trolling my own memories for images that were resonant. While I didn’t see my photos as a critique, I was open to a number of different interpretations and it raised the question for me of what it would mean to NOT be considered a feminist artist.
RECAPS: What has surprised you most in working with the love doll?
LS: How difficult it is to make pictures that look natural and comfortable, because the thing is so damn heavy. But ALSO, when I get it right, how really life-life it seems.
RECAPS: Your work has explored our (sometimes sexual) attachments the inanimate: from guns and cakes in “Walking and Lying Objects,” to charged domestic spaces, and now the Love Doll. Do you think it has become culturally more acceptable to acknowledge our erotic relationships with the non-human since you began exploring this issue? It seems like everyone is in a love relationship with their cellphone…
LS: Well, I’m certainly in a love relationship with my cellphone. I hold it in my hand in the way other generations held their cigarette. As far as eroticizing the inanimate, I think I started thinking about that in 1987, the first time I attached a pair of legs to a camera. It’s so much a part of what I do, I hardly think about it.
RECAPS: What advice do you most often give to emerging artists?
LS: Figure out what your real voice is and speak up. Nothing will make any sense until you figure out what you want to say. After that, decide there are no limits. At a certain point you’ll actually believe it.