Who's That Girl?

by Aaron Graves


Who’s That Girl?

A few years ago, I began a series of experimental works that were rooted in finding ways to unify all of my disciplines, which includes photography, fashion design, art installation, and, occasionally, video. In all of these areas I employ the rather unusual medium of mannequins. I found ways to combine 2, maybe 3, disciplines at a time, and achieved some notable success in doing so, but I wanted to take these concepts and experiments further.

I began brainstorming ways to focus everything into one large project with one theme that could be carried through multiple disciplines. I chose to start with fashion design, move to photography, then to gallery exhibit, and wrap up with a film documentary and book publishing. This path lead to my project: Who’s That Girl?

Who’s That Girl? revolves around the use of a group of vintage realistic mannequins to create a surrealistic fashion story that will be photographed around the city at night. I intend to blur the lines of reality in this shoot by placing them in active areas on the streets, alleys, and bars or nightclubs. With proper lighting, I want to make sure the viewer does not immediately, if at all, notice that the subjects are not real.

Each picture will have its own narrative pertaining to each model, just like in a fashion magazine. There will be 20 mannequins used and 20 images total. All of the mannequins will be wearing clothing designed and tailored by me. The resulting shots will then be made into large-scale (20 X 24 or 20 X 30) high gloss photographic prints to be placed on display in a gallery exhibit. I will more than likely have the clothing designs in a companion display so they can be viewed up close and in detail. The gallery will be up for 1 month.

Video documentation will also be used during this project. I will be recording various stages of the work and giving glimpses of my process throughout the entire project. The complete video will also be shown at the gallery, and segments will be used for social media sites and for Hatchfund updates as well. I will also be giving two artist talks during this project, one at the midway point, and one at the close of the gallery. The final phase is to publish a book featuring images from the fashion shoot along with the story of this entire process.

This work is unique for reasons beyond being multidisciplinary and surrealistic. It has an underlying commentary on the perception of beauty and perfection, not to mention fascination with celebrity since all of these mannequins were sculpted after real models. Despite these heady topics, it’s also just a fun and creative way to document, display, and contextualize fashion. 

On a completely different level, it’s also a preservation of these mannequins, which are becoming increasingly rare. Not many companies make them in this manner any more and many have been lost to time, trash compactors, and landfills. These amazing types of sculptures have been quite useful in my work and it’s nice to have access to them and to be able to reuse them. I often lend them to fellow artists and designers for use in their work as well.

Funds raised for this project will help cover purchase and restoration of the remaining 8 mannequins needed for this project (550.00 each, 4400.00 total), the trip to round up the mannequins and get initial measurements for the fashion designs (200.00), shipping of the mannequins (approximately 1200.00 total)

I already have the majority of the fabric for this project but supplies, such as zippers and thread is factored in (50.00), and cost of print work needs (150.00.) That is a maximum goal of 6000.00 total. This would allow the project to reach its full potential.

My goal is to comp donators with full reproductions of the prints. Depending on amounts donated it will be the complete set of 20 large prints, 2-3 images about half the size of the originals, or small individual prints to be chosen by the person donating. All work will be signed.

Any help that can be given to this project would be greatly appreciated! I'm eager to share this unique vision and process with everyone. It's taken many years to get it to this point, and has very much been a labor of love. I'm ready to create a beautiful, and enchanting body of work for everyone to enjoy and be a part of.

 Thank you all for your time and consideration!