Friday, March 2, 2012

Creative Process Journal: The Viktor & Rolf Dolls

Viktor & Rolf doll for 2008 retrospective
The dolls used in the Viktor and Rolf retrospective at the Barbican Gallery in 2008 were based on a nineteenth-century bebe type doll intended as a plaything and produced by the Maison Jurneau in Paris. A Belgian doll maker used real human hair, bisque porcelain faces and paper-mache bodies for the Viktor and Rolf dolls.

Bedtime Story Autumn/Winter 2005-6 Viktor & Rolf
There were two sizes of dolls used in the exhibition at the Barbican: 70 cm tall dolls dressed in miniature versions of the designer's collections and life-size dolls dressed in the actual garments. The shift in scale created an Alice in Wonderland illusion and it was somewhat surreal.

Cover of the exhibition catalogue
The cold perfection and the haunting gaze of the Viktor and Rolf dolls at the Barbicon – both large and small – depicted what Freud has defined as uncanny (and which will be the subject of an upcoming post). Caroline Evans referenced Freud’s essay in the exhibition catalogue and she also pointed out that “the double poses a challenge to the idea of individuality and the doll straddles an uncomfortable boundary between the living and the dead.” (Evans 19).


Evans, Caroline and Frankel, Susannah. The House of Viktor and Rolf. London: Merrell. 2008.
Freud, Sigmund. The Uncanny. London: Penguin Books, 2005

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