Four years ago, photographer Jamie Diamond bought a hyperrealistic doll known as a Reborn baby off eBay, and this purchase lead her to a project spanning nearly two years. Called Mother Love, the series blurs the lines between real and unreal, living and the inanimate.
To make this project possible, Diamond collaborated with an outsider art community called the Reborners. They’re a group of self-taught female artists who hand-make, collect, and interact with these dolls. They hold them, dress them, wash their hair, and take them for walks in the park. “After spending a year investigating and recording their practice,” Diamond writes in an artist statement, “I chose to become a Reborner to gain a better understanding of the community.” Diamond continues:
In Nine Months of Reborning, I reborned dolls and constructed a working nursery in my studio and on eBay, called the Bitten Apple Nursery. Before putting the dolls up for adoption on eBay, I photograph each one using a large format camera, the image becomes the remnant of this exchange.
Creating the dolls was a laborious process. Some required up to 80 individual layers of painting, veining, blushing mottling, and toning, cured with heat. Strands were individually attached to the scalp. The dolls were weighted properly so that they feel like a real baby when held in someone’s arms.
The Amy Project followed this construction. “I invited celebrated Artists from the community to individually interpret and idealize the same doll,” Diamond writes. “I then photograph each doll mimicking vernacular school portraits. Each of the dolls are unique to their maker’s hand, but share an uncanny similarity through their common origin.”
Diamond no longer calls herself a Reborner, and plans to sell the remaining dolls on eBay (although she might keep one for herself).
Working with the Reborn community has allowed me to explore the grey area between reality and artifice where relationships are constructed with inanimate objects, between human and doll, artist and artwork, uncanny and real. I have been engaged with this community now for four years and while working and learning from these women, I’ve become fascinated by the fiction and performance at the core of their practice and the art making that supports their fantasy. (Via Hyperallergic)