Saturday Features

A plastic world

- rabik upadhyay

Jun 23, 2018-

We have all seen the inanimate dolls of different shapes and sizes in a streetside shop or in a fancy mall outlet. Derived from the French word which means “an artist’s joined model,” mannequins are used more for commercial than artistic purposes these days. Some see them as symbols of capitalism, some as overtly sexist idealisation of human bodies. I had always been fascinated by them since I was a kid. I used to see the expressions on their faces and wonder if the artists who created them portrayed their exact feeling at the time while they were working on them or were they just catering to the market demands. Then popped the question within, “Why do a few of them look sad and dejected?” “Were they sad to begin with or became miserable over a period of time, exhausted of standing all day under the spotlight?” “Do they really enjoy all the attention that they get from onlookers?” 

I would imagine a mannequin to have feelings, enjoy a little tête-à-tête with other mannequins and even unwind once in a while after a long day, after the shutters are down. Because of this childhood obsession; whenever I am walking around on the streets with my camera, mannequins make up a lot of my frames. I was also curious of where they come from, so I randomly called one of the contact numbers that the manufacturers had stenciled on the bottom of one. I even arranged to visit their production house in Kalanki which doubled up as a mannequin hospital with severed limbs lying around, operations being conducted every hour or so. To my surprise, the place was a graveyard at the same time where all the youthful vigor of these human creations would come to an end. It further validated my assumption of individual mannequins having personalities of their own. These are the pictures collected over years of obsessing over these fascinatingly inanimate dolls in our very animated city.  

Photos and Text: Rabik Upadhyay

Published: 23-06-2018 08:16

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