PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Dallas

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Page 96 of 104

94 Notwithstanding the U.S. Senate and the Supreme Court, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth shines bright by rolling out an ambitious blockbuster (which will then travel) for a female artist working since the mid-1970s who has only had one previous retrospective, 21 years ago — a talent whose work is predicated on the very notion of femaleness, skewering prescribed gender roles with humor, droll wit, and bite. We're talking about photographer and filmmaker Laurie Simmons, whose works probe the tropes and traps of being a woman, most often told by employing dolls and dollhouses as stand-ins for late 20th- and early 21st-century role play. Simmons' questioning of societal norms remains consistent across time, even prophetic. Many works observed through today's lens assume greater topicality than when they were created, bearing allusions to gender fluidity as well as the cult of domesticity. What is new within this past decade is scale. It's as if the artist — who is also mom to two strong daughters, Lena Dunham of Girls renown and activist Grace Dunham — has come most fully into her own power. Simmons' dolls have broken out of their dollhouse and grown human size, as in recent work with life-like Japanese sex dolls. She's also tapped real women to have their eyelids painted shut then photographed — perhaps this image-maker's most unforgettable series yet — in "How We See." We began by asking the artist about her retrospec- tive's uncanny timing. Laurie Simmons: "The year 2014 was when curator Andrea Karnes and I started to really embark on it. It felt like the right time again, for me, to take another look at my work. It's now less than a year since the world got turned upside down and the first New York Times and Ronan Farrow's articles in The New Yorker broke. For every woman exhibiting, every artist, every person, the hashtag #MeToo movement is very significant. The word uncanny is used to describe my work, in terms of the way it bridges reality and allusion, but I don't know if it's uncanny that this exhibition happened in the #MeToo year." "Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera," at The Modern, through January 27, 2019; Read more of our Q&A with Laurie Simmons at Laurie Simmons' The Love Doll/Day 23 (Kitchen), 2010, at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York. HELLO, DOLLY! LAURIE SIMMONS CRITIQUES GENDER STEREOTYPES IN AN AMBITIOUS RETROSPECTIVE THAT SPANS 40 YEARS, ORGANIZED BY AND DEBUTING AT THE MODERN. #TIMESUP MEANS IT'S NOW THIS PHOTOGRAPHER AND FILMMAKER'S TIME. CATHERINE D. ANSPON RANG UP THE PIONEERING ARTIST — WHOSE DOLL-FILLED AND DOMESTIC IMAGERY IS INTENSELY RELEVANT TODAY — AT HER CONNECTICUT HOME AND STUDIO.

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