EYE CANDY

What It Looks Like When a Sex Doll Joins a Family

Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

At first glance, Elena Dorfman’s photographs could simply be snapshots of everyday, domestic life. There’s one key difference, though, that sets her and Jamie Diamond’s work in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,” showcased at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 22, 2019, apart from that of other portrait photographers. Beyond exploring romantic, sexual, and familial love, Diamond and Dorfman also focus on the emotions that can develop between humans and the hyperrealistic, synthetic representations of humans they keep as companions. Indeed, for the former, there’s nothing synthetic about these dolls—and not just for the older, single men you might expect to purchase a sex doll. Like the subjects of Diamond’s images, which portray members of an artist community known as the Reborners—some of whom are unable to have children, or have lost a child—holding hyperrealistic “babies,” some of Dorfman’s subjects are also mothers, who’ve welcomed their dolls so fully into their families that they join the rest in sitting at the kitchen table. No matter the household, though, Dorfman approached their “unsettling yet moving way of life” the same: “My ambition is never to judge, but to allow the inhabitants of this secret world to share their daily lives with me,” Dorfman said. See a glimpse of that secret world for yourself, here.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, **, 200. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, CJ 3, 2002. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, Ginger Brook 4, 2001. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, CJ & Taffy 5, 2002. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman
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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, **, 200. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, Sidore 4, 2001. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

“A doll owner holds his doll, Azra, in his arms as he takes her over the threshold in a mock wedding ceremony.” Elena Dorfman, **, 200. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, **, 200. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, **, 200. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.

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Courtesy of Elena Dorfman

Elena Dorfman, Lily 1, 2004. from the series “Still Lovers.” Featured in the exhibition “Surrogate. A Love Ideal,”on view at the Fondazione Prada in Milan through July 2019.