The relationship between these young American girls and their dolls is at once fascinating and upsetting, an effect that stems from their astonishing resemblance. Set-ups, matching clothes, and emotions play a major role in in the Polish-American photographer Ilona Szwarc’s World Press Photo Award-winning series. We see future American women personified by their “anti-” or “post-Barbies.” Each one of the dolls is a bit like their double, their twin, or an avatar if one wants to speak in more modern terms. Their appearance embodies certain values from contemporary culture and can influence the choices their owners make. In that sense, we can see a connection with Cindy Sherman’s work, or other similar artists that have turned an analytical eye on social and cultural phenomena and their influence on genres and thought.
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