Doll Closet (2014)

Amber Hawk Swanson’s Doll Closet (2014) explores the closet as a site of secrecy for queer sexuality and doll ownership. Live streamed online for one week, this durational performance is a collaboration between Swanson and Jesse—both of whom are active members of the sex doll community. Throughout, Swanson constructs a replica of the hidden closet where Jesse secretly kept his life-size sex doll Heather for fifteen years. Jesse instructs Swanson on how to build the closet and also discloses intimate details about his relationship with Heather (whose body parts are displayed as objects in the live performance, in order to witness the replication of her closet). Here, Swanson makes the private accessible to the public by creating a space for the sex doll community to share “closeted” desires, fantasies, and sexualities without breaking anonymity. The metaphor of the closet becomes a rendered site where Swanson asks “What kinds of relationships can flourish in secrecy?” Through the process of replicating Heather’s closet, Swanson constructs a queer body politic that confronts binary notions of what constitutes intimacy, sexuality, and artificiality.

AMBER HAWK SWANSON is a video and performance artist based in New York City. Swanson’s work explores how the psychological debt of love animates us in a social-emotional economy. She has exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, Denny Gallery, and Locust Projects, among other international art venues. Swanson’s artwork is included in the permanent and MPP collections at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. Scholarly writing about Swanson’s work has been published in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies and TDR: The Drama Review. Her artwork has been profiled and reviewed in the Guardian, Chicago Tribune, and Associated Press. She teaches in the Sculpture Departments at Rhode Island School of Design and Virginia Commonwealth University. Her visiting artist lecture appointments include Yale University, Columbia University, New York University, Maryland Institute College of Art, McGill University, East Carolina University, Hunter College, and Fashion Institute of Technology. Swanson holds a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. www.amberhawkswanson.com