Pillow Talk

Originally published on White Noise

April 2018

Ever been to an exhibition where you’ve got to lay down with three life-sized dolls and listen to very intimate conversations? Nope? We didn’t think so.

RCA’s Sandra Sordini’s talking dolls explores social norms within relationships and sexuality.

It only took the MA Visual Communications student a month of sewing to create the dolls from scratch. The artwork also features a backdrop and a mattress (to emulate a bedroom scenario) as well as graffiti and quotes from the interviews to enhance the visual aspect.

Sandra, who has a background in graphic design, took a very personal approach to her work. “I was trying out open relationships and some elements were frustrating. It all comes down to communication. I recorded pillow talk with people I was dating, (they were ok to do it), and what it means to be in an open relationship. I liked the idea of taking this intimacy into an open context – becoming a fly on the wall.”

Due to the nature of the conversations, Sordini questioned the just how much she wanted to reveal. “The conversations are all over an hour, I had a discussion with my tutor about whether I should edit it down. There were some bits that I wasn’t comfortable about sharing, but I chose not to edit it. I thought, ‘people will only listen for a minute or two, not the entire duration, so they’re getting bits of the conversation’”.

And it’s not just the conversations that are personal. “You really have to cuddle with the dolls to hear what’s being said,” the artist explains. “You’re in a very intimate and vulnerable position where it might be weird for other people watching you.”

But what does she hope to get out of the project? “It’s about sparking conversations about issues that I’m interested in. A lot of my work is trying to start a dialogue, asking questions rather than getting answers.”

Sordini, who originally wanted to study psychology but switched to art last minute, hopes to continue to marry the two worlds together. “I’d like to teach art, have great interviews with people (like a journalist), and put those voices into art work. It could be film or installation based.

You can have a sneak peek of the exhibition here.