cover image Walking Talking Lying

Walking Talking Lying

, , text by Kate Linker. . Aperture, $50 (155pp) ISBN 978-1-931788-59-5

Populated by sad, anonymous dolls, walking houses and ventriloquist dummies, Simmons's photographs and installations elicit an unlikely mix of uneasiness and nostalgia. In the 1970s, she crafted miniature dramas of quiet desperation and conspicuous consumption by constructing and photographing tiny, delicate tableaux of solitary female dolls amid mod furnishings and appliances. As Kate Linker points out in her extensive opening essay, the ambivalent relationship between these little people and their various consumer goods has, in some form or another, remained a constant theme throughout the artist's career; Simmons herself calls it "the confusion between ourselves and our possessions." In the 1980s, this confusion became more literal in Simmons's Walking and Lying Objects series, in which purses, cameras and baked goods are pictured with human legs. Perhaps most affecting, thanks in part to this volume's beautiful full-color reproductions, is a later series of portraits of ventriloquist dummies. Atmospherically lit and shot against stylized backgrounds, these figures appear eerily human. But that's nothing compared with the somewhat bizarre culmination of Simmons's work—photographs of the artist herself in the form of a custom-made dummy. All in all, this is an unexpected, visually enticing document of an audacious, odd talent. 104 color images. (Oct.)