Laurie Simmons and The Present Perfect
Laurie Simmons stages photographs and films with paper dolls, finger puppets, ventriloquist dummies, and costumed dancers as “living objects,” animating a dollhouse world suffused with nostalgia and colored by an adult’s memories, longing, and regrets. Art21 chronicled Laurie Simmons’ multiple collaborations directing her 2006 film, Music of Regret and her collaboration with musicians, puppeteers, Alvin Ailey dancers, and Hollywood cast and crew. Recently Simmons had also completed collaborations with fashion designers Thakoon Panichgul and Peter Jensen. Simmons will discuss her experiences directing Meryl Streep in Music of Regret (in the role of a doll come to life, a stand-in for Simmons herself); playing a role in her daughter Lena Dunham’s award-winning new feature film Tiny Furniture (filmed in Simmons’ own home); and photographing paper dolls for designer Peter Jensen.
In the weeks leading up to The Present Perfect with Art21, online viewers will have are invited to view Simmons’s films and to sneak preview clips from Tiny Furniture (NYC premiere June 2010, and national release Fall 2010). Audiences are also invited to view images from her collaboration with fashion designer Peter Jensen to create a unique series of fashion photography. Simmons invites viewers to submit questions and responses in response to these latest works—ranging anywhere from “What inspires you?” to “What was it like to be directed by your daughter?” to “Why do you use dolls so much in your work?”
About Laurie Simmons
Laurie Simmons was born on Long Island, New York, in 1949. She received a BFA from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia (1971). Simmons stages photographs and films with paper dolls, finger puppets, ventriloquist dummies, and costumed dancers as “living objects,” animating a dollhouse world suffused with nostalgia and colored by an adult’s memories, longings, and regrets. Simmons’s work blends psychological, political and conceptual approaches to art making, transforming photography’s propensity to objectify people, especially women, into a sustained critique of the medium. Mining childhood memories and media constructions of gender roles, her photographs are charged with an eerie, dreamlike quality. On first glance her works often appear whimsical, but there is a disquieting aspect to Simmons’s child’s play as her characters struggle over identity in an environment in which the value placed on consumption, designer objects, and domestic space is inflated to absurd proportions. Simmons’s first film, “The Music of Regret” (2006), extends her photographic practice to performance, incorporating musicians, professional puppeteers, Alvin Ailey dancers, Hollywood cinematographer Ed Lachman, and actress Meryl Streep.
- Official Web site for Laurie Simmons
- Laurie Simmons at Art21
- Laurie Simmons on the Art21 Blog
- Recent interview with Laurie Simmons in Dirty Magazine
- Official Web site for Tiny Furniture