— Toy research & sculpture

Parsons School of Design, 2021. 

Background Research

Toys & Mike Kelley’s Research

Final Work. 

Rationale of the work. 

These series of works arose after researching and studying Mike Kelley’s work. He dealt with commodi- ficaiton, jumbled between high and low art, relied on craft traditions such as knitting, sewing and crochet- ing, and mocked the notion of sex-determiend art. He casted a harsh light on the mythology of childhood and debunked the images of the young. He spoke about adult fantasies, as in fact is the adult who designs the toy. Many questions were posed. If the adult is the one who designs the toy, are their fantasies, fetishes, wishes, fears, biases projected into them? Is there cultural appropriation in the toy? Are there colonized and colonizer toys? Does the toy act as a transitional object? Is the toy the medium to establish order and exercise power in society? Is the syntax of binary thinking established by the toy culture? Binary thinking not as specificly connected to gender, but as a syntax of thinking that polarizes and makes hege- monic labels (think about the good and the bad, the right and the left in politics, male and female, depres- sion and hapiness...). I started to be interested in displacement and decontextualization (both of them working within frameworks and exploring questions), and in seeing what toys were polemic and which weren't, what toys were only meant for specific genders, what toys were in friction and in that friction what dialogues could emerge. Could a doll have a conversation with a dildo, or a feminine wipe? The foundation of this question was the underlying polarized thinking of these subjects. How far is actually sexuality from childhood and the toy? Sexuality not as in the sexual act, but as in the discovery, exploration, awakening, desiring and acknowledging. It is im- portant to approach sexuality through this meaning as it is most commonly thought as the sexual act of penetration, masturbation or ‘sex’. Sexuality is not only sex. Indeed, Freud had already spoken about how sexuality is such a big part of childhood. In addition, sexuality is presented, expressed and repressed by toys and actually the sexual toy is analogous to the doll in the fact that it satisfies a ludic, playful, enjoyable and very vivid need.

The relationship between the child and the toy is powerful and interesting, as in that relationship both subjects are modified. Toys reflect the child and the child transforms with the toy. I wondered about the difference between the standardized and the hand-made toy, which one was more tenebrous, and from which production systems did they come from. How much sweat was spilled over the toy which is then used by the innocent child? The value of the craftsman disappears and I found creepy how the unknown background of an object could coexist with the excitement and innocence of an infant.

I also wondered that if toys work under and for sys- tems, if they act as objects of order, power and coercion, couldn't we also be a production of our own thinking and systems? Do we actually choose our forms and norms, or do we adapt ourselves to the retail offerings (just as a child adapts himself to the toys available in a store)?

In my research I also came to the conclusion that pop- ular culture and history modify the toy. This is seen in the relationship between porcelain dolls and terror movies.

In addition, I also reflected on how the handcrafted object is much more abstract and enables the sover- eign thought of the subject. It permits creative and emotional freedom, authorship in the narrative and experience, and exploration. It is much further away from the binary thinking syntax, as there is not as much imposed by the maker as in a standardized toy, in which they excised anything that looks vaguely per- sonal or idiosyncratic. Indeed, the gender of the hand crafted toy is much harder to define, if not impossible. It allows exploration of the child's wishes and questions without clear answers. Every question or answer is accepted. It holds a more empirical connection and experience with the child, as they are both built in the experience (neither of them would remain unchanged after the encounter).

Related Works

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