What is the limit between the representation of ourselves and the construction of our image? Blonde/aqua sweater/dog by Laurie Simmons is an image that investigates exactly this sought-after space in which identity seeks its own expression. The artist, photographer and director, often creates dolls or puppets that through her set-ups, tries to make more human, giving them a new emotionality, with a constant nostalgic and melancholy veil. In this photographic work, which is part of the Kigurami Dollers (2014) series, Simmons portrays a girl with a perfect doll mask, almost a princess from the latest Disney films, with a lost gaze in a direction unknown to the observer. In her arms she holds a little dog, which frightened looks towards the observer as if he could smell the deception that underlies this perfect photograph.

The Dollers are those people, both girls and boys, who dress up wearing a mask that has the appearance of a doll and like cosplayers they blend their identity with this new version of themselves. Simmons’ work in this sense is contemporary precisely because the size of the dollers is reflected in the everyday life of social media. Her subjects, posing, ready to take a selfie, show their best appearance, perhaps even the angle of the face that most highlights their physical characteristics. The images of Kigurami Dollers could very well be posted from an instagram profile that gets many likes: Blonde/aqua sweater/dog shows us a girl with a beautiful home, loving with her pet and smiling. But precisely the perfection of her papier-mache face (the artist herself makes these masks, as she is does in others projects) hides the tension and discomfort in always having to fake and create a representation of how you are suppose to look like and not how you should just be, following the stereotype given by the society.

Perhaps we can all find ourselves behind that mask, a way to play with our image but at the same time a cage that forces us to accept constant staging, almost a constant betrayal of ourselves. Frank, the eponymous character in Lenny Abrahamson’s film, hides behind a doll-shaped mask for his entire life, with the intention of covering unresolved issues with himself. Despite this, he says: “I say ‘tell everyone everything’, why cover things up?”, as if his mask had become his everyday life: his reality, not his fiction. Even the doll girl of Laurie Simmons, in her glacial perfection, seems to suggest her tranquility, almost used to this constant staging. But at the same time, the melancholy shade that the photographer is able to give to these subjects underlines their fragility and instability: a disturbing mirror of the present condition of her own person and of her own image.

Laurie Simmons
Blonde/Aqua Sweater/Dog, 2014
Courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York © Laurie Simmons