This project focuses on The Reborn, a brand of lifelike baby dolls handmade in silicone or vinyl which are produced or collected by over 20,000 women worldwide. As simulacra of human babies they are often used for therapeutic purposes, either to process grief or to will the perceived void of a never-born child. Indeed, their appearance can even be defined on commission: many clients want to see a lost kid once again, others imagine their ideal newborn. The buyers, who call themselves Reborn Mommies, dress and nourish the dolls, wash their hair, walk them in a stroller and put them to sleep.

Manufacturing of The Reborn started in the USA in the 1990s. Exclusively female, the artists who craft The Reborn work at home, following in the tradition of 19th century dollmakers. However, a global, virtual society quickly spread via the internet and social media, and The Reborn have become a worldwide phenomenon. The average price of a doll is approximately $800. The most expensive one was sold for about $30,000. The purchase imitates an adoption procedure through unique birth certificates.

This work explores the emotional bond between dolls and their owners, analyzing the bewildering realities of commercialized motherhood and asking the question “Why do women buy synthetic kids?”. ‘Babies Who Touch You’ displays the dolls stored in transparent plastic bags, a metaphorical or artificial placenta which emblematizes human desires transformed into market goods. My photos show fake children produced in series, ready to be reborn.

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