"DOTTIE” will be the fifth installation of Amber Hawk Swanson’s series of durational performances involving practices of training, captivity, and intimate replication.
Under the direction of the Chaffin Carousel Carving School in Birmingham, Alabama, Hawk Swanson will produce a full-size wooden carousel mount in the likeness of Dottie, a nine-year-old RealDoll originally owned by a Disneyworld Imagineer and “doll husband” known on Our Doll Community (ODC) as “Nagus.” Dottie is now in the shared custody of two doll owners known as “Incred” and “Camp,” who met online, discovered they live only nineteen miles apart, and combined their doll collection into the basement of Incred’s home in 2007. Taking place over nine consecutive days, Hawk Swanson’s performance will be a portrait of Dottie, the two men’s joint custody of her, and their relationship to and through Dottie.
In “DOTTIE,” the doll, like the carousel horse, will be offered as a captive instrument of play and surrogacy, an object in virtual relation to the people who touch and handle her. “DOTTIE” resumes Hawk Swanson’s exploration of the troublingly fluid interchange between seduction, captivity, and captivation developed in her previous performances, while exploring artist Barbara DeGenevieve’s assertion that “seduction is at least somewhat consensual” (Desperado, 2004). A feeling need not share time if it can maintain a place—where consent might be a (spatial) field rather than a temporal trap—insofar as a space can allow for two people to be together even if their meeting there is seemingly unsynced.
Hawk Swanson has been a part of the doll community since 2005 after acknowledging her failed attempts to date “organic” women and developing an affinity with doll husbands who consider dolls to be life partners. In 2006, she commissioned the fabrication of Amber Doll, a RealDoll made in the artist’s likeness who became her artistic and romantic companion for five years. Hawk Swanson’s projects with dolls are part of an ongoing exploration of their material capacities for synthesis and salvation—that is, the personal and political promise and mimesis of the copy. In her ongoing series of apprenticeships and studies, Amber Hawk Swanson provides an object lesson in what it is to become what scholar Denise Ferreira da Silva calls “no-body”; entangled, embodied and bound.