ELENA DORFMAN: The Origin of the New World
Apr 6 — May 20, 2017
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The Origin of the New World is a sequel to Elena Dorfman’s 2004 seminal series of photographs, Still Lovers, which examined the domestic relationships between people and their sex dolls. This current series of photographic light boxes was inspired by Gustave Courbet’s famous painting, Origin of the World (L’Origine du monde), his shocking and erotic portrait of female genitalia created in 1866. Dorfman’s interpretation, Origin of the New World, replaces Courbet’s flesh-and-blood model with a silicone sex doll. Visible only when the light box is switched on, the doll’s prone figure is illuminated through a one-way mirror. The darkened mirror—normally used for surveillance and interrogation—is employed here as a device to prompt viewers to consider their own relationship to the subject, as well as the broader issues this post-human figure evokes. The illuminated box not only references the realism of Courbet’s painting but also the uncanny valley of Duchamp’s Etant donnes (1946-66), a nude-figured tableau visible only through a peep hole. The psychological tension in this work is a common thread in all of Dorfman’s previous series.