Single Woman Photographer Opposes Societal Marital Pressure with Mannequin Family
(Link): ‘SPINSTER’ PHOTOGRAPHER POSES WITH MANNEQUIN FAMILY TO DEPICT THE AMERICAN DREAM
“My name is Suzanne Heintz and I’m a photographer … and a spinster.” —Suzanne Heintz
Denver-based photographer and art director Suzanne Heintz was fed up with people asking her when she was going to get married.
From her mother’s direct plea, “Just pick somebody!” to others’ woeful sighs of pity, Heintz lived half her life wondering where she had gone wrong.
After years of struggling to politely answer the question, she decided to procure the house, husband, and offspring everyone so desperately felt was the pathway to happiness.
Purchasing a pair of second-hand mannequins, Heintz set about playing house to achieve the American Dream.
From a Parisian holiday to Christmas cards of wildly escalating happiness, Life Once Removed is a sharp, witty critique on the archaic expectations of domestic bliss and fulfillment.
Describe the ‘perfect life’ that is expected of every woman.
“This is a weird time in women’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased as punch that I was born when I was. I’ve got more choices and opportunities than any generation of women before me, but our roles have never been more complicated by deeply ingrained mixed messages from both previous and present generations.
“The term ‘perfect’ is no longer used to describe what we’re all striving to be. Now it is called ‘fulfilled.’ But for women, the path to fulfillment is not through one thing, it’s all things—education, career, home, family, accomplishment, enlightenment. If any one of those things is left out, it’s often perceived that there’s something wrong with your life. We are somehow never enough just as we are. We are constantly set up by our expectations to feel as though we are missing something.
“In my case, it seems I was missing the family component, and was suspect for that gap in my resumé as a successful woman. I thought it was high time to call this nonsense out publicly, because this notion is not just about me, nor only about women in regards to marriage. It’s about anyone whose life doesn’t look the way it ‘should.’
“I’m simply trying to get people to open up their minds and quit clinging to antiquated notions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it has made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. or Esq. attached.”
… You have taken grand measures to actually enact these family rituals of home, holidays, and vacation. Why was the physicality of the work significant?
“This is why I’ve never used a model for the wife and mother role. It is a self portrait. I personally had to act it out to make the point. I had to physically demonstrate ‘going through the motions.’ If I had married because it was ‘time,’ I’d be living by rote, not choice. That’s exactly what I’m criticizing—acting out a life based on outdated expectations. I construct these artificial scenes of real life to ask, ‘What’s more important? That I’m happy, or that the open position of husband and father is filled in my life?’
“Now in regards to the physical difficulty of transporting and shooting uncooperative fiberglass quadriplegics—why would I put myself through this? It’s because the struggle is what tells you that the message is important. We are all overwhelmed by a flood of insignificant messaging. A message of any significance requires a great effort to be heard.
This monumental effort I’ve made is absurd, but it reflects my point. Going through life by rote or spending it feeling as though you did it wrong, are lacking, or not living up to expectations—that’s what is truly an absurd waste of time.”
(Link): Single Woman Opposes Societal Marital Pressure with Mannequin Family
Posted by Pinar on February 12, 2014 at 10:00am
Life Once Removed is a whimsical yet thought-provoking portrait series by photographer and self-described spinster Suzanne Heintz that explores the societal expectancy of women to get married and start a family. The photographer places herself in front of the camera with a set of mannequins, posing as though they’re a nuclear, all-American family from a postcard or perhaps a 1950s sitcom.
Heintz originally embarked on this project because, she says, “I got really sick and tired of answering the question, ‘Why aren’t you married?’ over and over again. Like my life was behind schedule or there was something seriously wrong with me. Like I wasn’t living up to expectations.” Therefore, she intended to create her own husband and child. Throughout the series, Heintz wears her toothy smile as she goes sightseeing with her plastic family.
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