Friday, 24 April 2015

The Trouble With Nostalgia: An Account of Two Collections

Alicia Rodriguez scouts two very different manikin-themed museum displays.

Box Back Terrace (unknown artist) England, 1990s

‘Something you can play with/ something you can cuddle/ but nothing that’ll hurt you/ or get you into trouble’ assures the piece of card to which a tiny peg wooden doll is fastened. Placed amongst some hundred antique manikins of varying descriptions as part of Ydessa Hendeles’ From her wooden sleep, these dolls do not recall memories of ‘play’ however, with their slim, hard bodies and fragile wooden points in place of hands and feet. They appear to whisper conspiratorially, uncanny and cruel. 

Completely unintentionally, I see From her wooden sleep fresh from a trip to the current exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, Small Stories: at home in a dolls’ house. It is a kind of nightmarish descent.