Front cover of the book. Grace Banks / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

By Liana Jacob

 

SEX DOLLS have been brought to life in a series of images from a fascinating new book.

 

Incredible pictures reveal blow-up dolls from a Marilyn Monroe inspired doll emerging from a yellow taxi to another picture taken under water with a life-like doll in a red dress staring into the lens.

Meeting from Love Doll series.
Salon 94 / Laurie Simmons / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

Further photographs depict the realistic images of sex dolls either lying in a double bed or two female sex dolls lying next to each other on a double bed.

 

Other pictures show a doll that resembles quirky singer/songwriter Lady Gaga, who will be starring in the new movie A Star Is Born alongside actor Bradley Cooper.

Real Dolls series.
Martine Gutierrez / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

The sensational images have been compiled into a book called Play With Me by writer and editor of popular culture, Grace Banks. It has been published by Laurence King Publishing.

 

“This book looks at the ownership of the female nude in today’s current political, economic and social climate, as well as how, through sex dolls, mannequins, CGI, nude neon reliefs and other appropriations of the female form,” Grace said.

Album cover Lady Gaga’s Artpop.
Jeff Koons / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

“Artists are reclaiming the ownership of the female body from the pervasive male-defined tropes and spaces for the female body in contemporary art.

 

“The female nude is one of the most contentious topics of our post-internet age. In the spring of 2016, Kim Kardashian West instagrammed a photograph of herself naked with two black stripes censoring her body.

Real dolls in production.
Hanson Robotics Ltd / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

“Within a few seconds, the image generated 1.7 million likes, over 336,000 comments, thousands of shares across social media, and the world, from celebrities to fans, went crazy.

 

“Was this a harmless post or a step back for feminism? As the picture gained traction, Kardashian West’s high-profile critics swung into action delivering: ‘If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera.’ (actress Bette Midler).

Elena Dorfman, a doll creator, with one of her dolls.
Edwynn Houk Gallery / Elena Dorfman/ Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

“’Put some clothes on’ (journalist Piers Morgan), ‘I truly hope you realise how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than just our bodies’ (actress Chloe Grace Mortez), as the swift consensus.”

 

Some of the first sex dolls were invented by Dutch sailors in the 17th century who needed company while isolated at sea during long journeys.

Valentine 4 from Still Lovers series.
Edwynn Houk Gallery / Elena Dorfman/ Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

Grace mentions that she would like to highlight the trend for objects often used for female objectification such as sex dolls, neon strip signs and mannequins, subverted and recast as figures with political power by showcasing different artists and their artwork.

 

The marketing for sex dolls has increased in the USA around 1992; the last 20 years have seen the development of the dolls to look more realistic and this has been evident through the internet. The method of retail purchase has improved which has contributed to its market growth to being worth over an estimated £15.5 billion ($20 billion) worldwide and is expected to rise over £23.3 billion ($30 billion) by 2020.

Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls.
Stacy Leigh / Castor Gallery / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

“Works in this book fit into the wider movement of feminist art. These are contemporary artists, sure, but they’re also activists, theorists, political commentators and more,” Grace said.

 

“They deal with online post-internet feminism, but in working largely offline their work shows a triumph of real-life feminism versus online activism.

Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls.
Stacy Leigh / Castor Gallery / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

“With the tools once used to objectify them, these artists transform women’s bodies into a self-governed piece de resistance.

 

“The political activism is what I wanted to highlight in these works, so I’ve organised the chapters into some of the most pressing problems for women today – the commodification of women’s bodies, the bias for women’s bodies created by men in art, the changing nature of gender binaries and what will happen to the female body in the future.”

Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls.
Stacy Leigh / Castor Gallery / Laurence King Publishing / mediadrumimages.com

 

Play With Me is published by Laurence King Publishing and is available to buy now for RRP £24.99: https://www.laurenceking.com/product/play-with-me/