Hans Bellmer La demie poupée
My practice has strong synergies with the surrealist movement, transported to a more contemporary register, so I found the imagery of the dolls in Hans Bellmer’s work both fascinating and disturbing.
I first saw La demie poupée at the AGNSW when curator Tony Bond included it in his exhibition Body in 1997. I also had a work in the exhibition, Vital statistics, which included a sculpture created from pink silicon and fibreglass cast from the negative spaces of my body and accompanied by photographic images, which together resonated with Bellmer’s work in both complementary and contradictory ways.
Bellmer’s seemingly fragmented and contorted use of the female doll-form represented a challenge to feminist ideas around representations of the female body in art. However, my research revealed a more complex relationship in which his work utilised the surrealist object’s subversive and erotic, sadistic and fetishistic qualities to expose his fierce opposition as a German artist to the Nazi regime. The innocence of the doll becomes a metaphor for a body exposed to both torture and abuse.