I spent sooooo much time making these dolls!
I had a crazy rare week of being virtually fatigue-free and on a “normal person” sleep schedule, where I woke up between 7 and 9 and went to bed around 10 to midnight.
The last period I can remember like that was around 2008. I took mad advantage of the good light and the long days, and worked on the dolls ten or twelve hours a day.
I approached the project with a kind of relaxed enforced serendipity- I would just reach in the doll making drawer and grab and handful of materials. Then I’d see what I could make with the bits of legs, arms, fur and plastic bugs I’d grabbed. It was like putting together puzzles.
Bricoleurs are machines that make junk into art.
There is a powerful mental image for me when I work on stuff like this. I always think of the Boxmaker in Count Zero, the AI fragments/loa that uses Tessier-Ashpool relicts to make Cornell boxes. The idea of being a machine that recycles scraps and pieces of artifacts into new artifacts is so beautiful and restorative to me.
I’ve been cutting up my dolls and making them over my whole life.
My best friend Victoria and I used to chop off their hair, paint them with Mercurochrome for fake blood, and drop them out the window of her parents’ loft on Great Jones St.
They would land on the hoods of the cars in the parking lot below, tiny sacrifices.
I used to use the fireplace tongs to hold my Flatsie dolls in the wood stove at our cabin in the Adirondacks, revealing their wire armatures.
I never minded the smell of burning plastic; I was too fascinated by the structure being revealed and the way the arms melted off.
Dolls are intrinsically powerful; they come pre-loaded with content.
Add pink housewife dresses and the horns of a genderbent Herne, and you have a semiotic shorthand that anyone can parse. They are little totems, little ration packs. I lavished them with the tiniest Swarovski crystals, leftover fur from one of Daria’s dolls, velvet ribbon, and microbeads, because pretty and scary are my favorite mix.
Like many artists I know, I’ve been deeply inspired by the idea of being called a “nasty woman”.
I love that idea, I love the entire notion of reclaiming my nastiness and ugliness and witchiness and harpiness and shrillness and bitey-rage-creature-ness.
I am completely ready to embrace my monsterhood and the monsterwoman-ness of all the monster people of all genders and origins and being-hoods. Be maenads, and rage!
Anyone who has a problem with the furious girl-child inside me who cut the heads off dolls can take it up with my glorious, furious, terrifying grown-ass woman monster-self. Lotsa luck, as we say where I come from.