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Work / Photography

June Korea’s photographic fantasy: one man’s relationship with his sex doll

Still Lives: Eva is a constructed reality photographic series about one man’s relationship with his beloved sex doll. His love began the day he cut open the tape to her man-sized box, delivered by FedEx on 29 December 2014.

Photographed in narrative situations, this work represents a progression of New York-based visual artist June Korea’s ongoing fascination with dolls. “I began photographing dolls in 2001 to listen to their voices, and see their secret lives once again as I did in my childhood,” he says.

Although the work is a fictional child-like fantasy, it is inspired by and grounded in an emotional sincerity. “Loneliness is why I became interested in photographing dolls. I know human-like inanimate objects are not going anywhere,” June explains.

June sought for the still lives to be riddled with melancholy, forcing the inanimate Eva to become a relatable character in the narrative. June says: “I hope for myself and viewers who are struggling with different types of emotions every day, that we can find more meaning by sharing stories of the solitary existence in our lives.”

Yet the images are far from titillating, as might be expected from a photo series centered on a man’s relationship with his mail-order sex doll.The images tend towards the domestic. “We sleep and wake up together. We go shopping, dining, driving, and even travel together just like ordinary people do in their real lives. We laugh and cry, we feel happy and lonely,” he says.

The series of photographs taps into the uncanny valley theorem, in which a closely realistic resemblance in artificial objects to living beings incites revulsion or unease. In this case it heightens the viewing experience, as Eva takes on life in these very human situations.

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