13 February 2007

Manque Mannequins: Art. Life. Whatever.

I haven't blogged in a while, and I think there comes a time in every man's life when he needs to sit down, on February 13th, 2007 and write a blog. Today is that day for me.

But its gonna be a short one since I'm tired.


Creative catalyst.

Stimulating in oh-so-many ways.

Yes, these are all terms I've heard... well technically not heard, but imagine I could've heard referring to male mannequins. You see, I was writing a post for a friend, and felt, as many do, constrained to leave a creepy picture of a mannequin. And believe me folks, there are plenty out there.


But as I was searching, I started to realize something. A mannequin is used (usually) as a human shaped clothing rack, to desplay the latest fashions, in sizes that are unreachable to most real humans.

I should know, I used to work at Banana Republic. We used to just have body foms, but those days passed and the Gap Inc. decided to boldly embrace new, exciting advances in mannequinn technology and began shipping us the new display dolls.
I remember the day well.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I think it's part of a leg. That's the knee, see?" my general manager assured me. As the visuals manager, I had know these were coming and it would be within my duties to assemble them. Mistakenly, I had assumed they'd be shipped with their pieces in one box. It is an occupational hazard to ever make assumptions about logical proceedings from corporate.

"Why is the knee skewed to the side?" My curiousity couldn't be restrained.

The pasty white thing she held in her hands was strangely curved on both sides and if it was a knee cap, this person needed serious medical attention. Overlooking the fact that it was chopped into multiple pieces over course. Trying to visualize what the mannequin would look like assembled, this leg would indicate he was crouching, ready to spring.

The GM looked at it, shifting it around. "I don't know. It'll be hard to dress in that position." She stared, then cupped her hand around it's knee. "It's such an odd shape."

Just then another member of management, the delightfully gay Rob, walked through the doorway. "Hey, Christina, where is the rec..." trailing off, he saw the two of us gawking awkwardly at the fiberglass piece. "Lonely?" he asked.

"What?" the two of us asked simultaneously.

"Well," he continued, "I just assumed I since you're in the back room fondling a mannequin's package."

Ah. Of course. That strange shape which in no way resembled a man's crotch was in fact his junk. If you turned it the right way... Yes, that was definitely an ass, now that you look at it. Well, sort of an ass.

That night we set up all the mannequins, and discovered that with their semi-poseable arms, amazingly dirty scenes could be reinacted with these gents. Oddly enough the anatomically incorrect bulges stuck out further than anything else on their frontal side. An ego trip, I suppose. The female forms appeal to women by being sizes that twiggy would find evnvious, while the male ones sport supposed cock and balls easily seen through any of the layers of clothing put on it. Clever.

So as I searched today through the multitude of pictures of these dolls, I noticed how disturbing their semi-life-likeness was. They aren't human, and in many cases are strangely stylized to not even appear human. And yet, as certain horror genres have explored, if you found one chilling in a dark alley, there's a strange unease about it.


And then there's the artistic aspect. Since art imitates life, or whatever it does, why not bring mannequins into the fold? What are they except imitations of life? One can find an abundance of pictures, paintings, films, etc. where the mannequin is used as an expression. In one gallery, it's not enough to have the mannequin, he must be modified to be as close to human as possible. I.e. have a lil' somin' below the belt.

So what is our fascination with mannequins? If you're in business, you use them to sell. If not, then they're just strangely disturbing representations of things we can't achieve, a cruel and mocking image of what we wish we might be, and certainly a reflection of the imitations of life.

Perhaps what is so frightening about them to me is that there are real people out there who are just as empty, plastic and pretty. Mannequins built to look like people, and people who strive to look like mannequins. Who is really imitating whom? Those built to imitate, or those imitating them?

How circular.

If you're interested in purchasing mannequins, for artistic purposes or otherwise, visit:
Mannequin Maddness
Particularly check out Dennis the Menace, and the "Hip Hop Mannequins" under their male mannequins section.


Anonymous said...

Love your blog!


Taylor said...

"Mannequins built to look like people, and people who strive to look like mannequins. Who is really imitating whom?"

That's an interesting idea to ponder.

full body mannequins said...

Interesting blog.