Silicon dolls that resemble perfect women, and real women seeking perfection so they resemble dolls. Along with them, the unconscious represented as a fish, as a metaphor of a murky, disturbing world.
Wannabe, the first book by photographer Elisa González Miralles, is a striking photographic story that reflects on interpersonal relationships, stereotypes, the construction of identities and objectification. Its point of departure is the phenomenon of Japanese love dolls. These luxury items, which cost more than 6,000 euros, are silicon dolls made in the image and likeness of a real woman. They weigh around 40 kg and wear size 36. They are hyper-realistic sex toys that are purchased and customised, with every single detail handpicked by the client.
The idea around which Wannabe revolves came from a trip the photographer took to Japan in 2002. At that time, González Miralles discovered the custom of “replacing” real women with these hyper-realistic dolls. She returned to Japan in 2013 with the idea of making an artwork on those objects, but she was confronted with the paradox that real women were adopting the appearance of the dolls and even altering their physical appearance to become replicas of these artificial products, which are anatomically and physically perfect but lack a soul.
The photographs comprising the Wannabe series test the viewer’s visual acuity, as sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the images of real women from those of the dolls. And to further explore this conflict, González Miralles uses a symbolic element: the puffer fish, whose flesh is delectable and exclusive yet extraordinarily dangerous if not prepared correctly because it contains a neurotoxic poison which leads to muscular paralysis and death by asphyxiation. As the artist explains, this fish represents “the unconscious of these women, who are condemned to satisfy social expectations and follow the instructions needed to meet the imposed standard of beauty”.