Sigmund Freud believed the uncanny to be something which leads us back to what is old and familiar but is at the same time “unheimlich” or uncomfortable. This series explores the idea of the uncanny as it manifests in a longing for youth, and a recognition of mortality.
Driven by the nostalgia of our lost childhood, many of us have kept our dolls: sitting on a shelf, buried in a box in a closet, locked in an attic. In these portraits, women over 40 are posed with their childhood dolls. Each doll serves as an entry point into the history of our life which is both strange and familiar. In my photographic survey I consider the rediscovery of these doll-momentos, which lead these women to recall a past of comfort and security. It’s hard to imagine a time and place when we would have played with these dolls. As young girls we spent hours with them. Our friend and confidant, they kept us safe at bedtime, while comforting us during stressful times. Those days are gone forever, yet eternally present as evidenced by the doll: an assurance of a past.
These images are tinged with a sense of ‘memento mori’ – ‘remember that you are mortal’. As I age, I am constantly reminded of life’s uncertainty. This series helps me reflect on the human condition: the transience of life and the inevitability of death.
By Vera Saltzman