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Becky Yee, More Than a Woman: Photographs

hpgrp Gallery
32-36 Little West 12th Street, 2nd Floor, 212-727-2491
Greenwich Village
February 11 - March 15, 2009
Reception: Wednesday, February 11, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Photographed in a three-bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Tokyo. The single human occupant, a middle-aged computer engineer. He is the self-proclaimed world’s largest collector of “Dutch wives” (“Datchu-waifu”) also called sex dolls or love dolls.

Over 70 Dutch wives – ranging from the cheap vinyl inflatable $50 “Big Sue” doll to the $10,000 a piece, sophisticated, life-sized “Real Doll” and subsequent Japanese imitations – crowd every nook and cranny of his apartment, and not only with their presence but with accessories, clothes, shoes and toys.

Technically and legally single, he is never without his wedding ring and when asked if he is a married man, answers an enthusiastic, “Yes, for over 10 years!” This date commemorates the time he first started to purchase, collect and be intimate with Dutch wives.

“More than a Woman” hopes to explore more than the Dutch wives’ obvious function of satisfying sexual and physical needs. Visually discovering the basic cravings for companionship, unconditional love, unwavering loyalty and the importance of trust, acceptance and intimacy. All of which he is unable to find in a human relationship, but is somehow satiated with his cast of Dutch wives.

The multitude of Dutch wives create his perfect world of women.

“My ladies are always there for me,” he said. “They never talk back, and if I get bored, I can just change the head.”

These Dutch wives are more than a woman to him and More than a woman can ever be.

BACKGROUND Many people can view Japan as a country that is always trying to improve on things that already exist in a strive for perfection. From bonsai, perfectly manicured miniature trees, to the delicate perfection of a Haiku poem, where serving and creating the perfect cup of tea is a ceremony, one can say artificial perfection is a Japanese cultural obsession.

It is this obsession with perfection that has facilitated huge strived and improvements in their society: companies like Canon and Nikon lead the way for digital SLR cameras; Toyota is a world-leading car manufacturer; and the incredible subway system in Tokyo runs on schedule nearly to the second for a population of over 20 million people.

This need for artificial perfection is no doubt wonderful but it has other repercussions beyond orchestrating society like a well-greased anthill. Can the constant need for perfection warp our expectations of things that are not inherently perfect?

The “otaku” culture of Akihabara (an area of Tokyo filled with hundreds of Electronics and Anime shops) is completely saturated with animation and pornography. The typical image of a super-power hero with Barbie doll proportions doubling as shy, geeky and meek schoolgirl shapes the beginning of what some people think a woman should be like. Are there Japanese men who seek to perfect a woman? Are they unable to find a woman who meets those standards of perfection and in turn, do they try creating the perfect woman?

Perfection, while inherently good, always has its flaws.

THE DOLLS A Dutch wife is a sex toy in the size, shape and weight of an actual sexual partner. Some sex dolls are made in the appropriate anime characters body proportions and features. In addition to the physical attributes that are there for obvious sexual reasons, these dolls also are able to fulfill and act out any “perverted,” unsanctioned sexual fantasy someone may have such as pedophilia. Some Dutch wives are the size of little 10-year-old girls complete with ponytails, petulant mouths, innocent doe eyes and wrapped in Catholic schoolgirl outfits.

The dolls are often very heavy, 30 kilos or about 66 pounds, and simulate the weight of a real human. Hollywood special effects techniques for realistic skin made out of silicone are employed on the higher-end Dutch wives. Water-filled body areas in breasts and buttocks are made even more realistic when they are given a hot bath before “play.” Their flexible joints allow them to be positioned on their own as they kneel on all fours or straddle a human body in a provocative pose.

Are these dolls just a glorified form of masturbation or are they fulfilling some other need that is going unfulfilled in society? What is that need and why do these dolls satisfy them?
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