I have recently been interested in reviewing the 2007 footage of the Making-Of Amber Doll in preparation for FIVE DOLLS. I am posting some Making-Of photographs as connect the Making-Of Amber Doll with the Making-Of Tilikum in prep for future projects.
A year ago today, I made the first incision into Amber Doll's flesh in order to transform her into Tilikum. Twelve pounds of silicone flesh was all that was left of Amber Doll’s original form after Tilikum was sculpted. My solo exhibition "All That is Left of You / Everything You Are Now," included two performances: "Cleaning" and "Ribbon Tying" and displayed the 556 non-orca parts of Amber Doll. To mark today's incision-anniversary, I have a new 3minute compilation of excerpts from "Cleaning" and "Ribbon Tying."
I'll soon be posting more information on my forthcoming projects, THE AUCTION and FIVE DOLLS.
Both are extensions of my existing bodies of work. Especially Amber Doll > Tilikum:
After transforming Amber Doll into a small replica of the bull orca Tilikum , then branding my body with his name and posing with him for pin-up images, I wanted to make work that addressed Tilikum's inability to re-enter the ocean.
For the reasons outlined in my previous post about the stresses of captivity for marine mammals—even if SeaWorld were willing—Tilikum is not a candidate for reentering the ocean on his own.
He was originally captured in waters near Berufjörður off the east coast of Iceland in November 1983 at about two years of age. (Born in August 1980, I am the same approximate age as Tilikum.) As I describe in my letter to Amber Doll, I will take (my replica of) Tilikum to Berufjörður as a gesture toward the re-entry that is not possible.
As a first step toward our joint travel, I visited a fjord about a thirty minute drive from Berufjörður. I shot a second Amber Doll > Tillikum pin-up during a windstorm there.
August 17—September 07
All That is Left of You / Everything You Are Now presents the remains of a transformation from
female to whale.
To: Amber and Doll
Date: Thursday, May 20th, 2010 at 6:00pm
….The thought that it was you, a piece of you, never occurred to people. She became a sex toy and in a way a piece of you did as well.
Date: Saturday, April 14th, 2012 at 7:01am
i want to buy an amber doll how can i get oneThe value is to be determined by you: the audience, the patron, the bidder.To: Our Viewers
From: Tilikum, Amber Doll, and Amber Hawk Swanson
Date: September 6, 2012 6pm-9pm cst
You are invited to attend the closing performance event of All That is Left of You / Everything You Are Now as we prepare the remains of Amber Doll for auction. Your physical presence is requested at 217 North Carpenter Chicago, IL and/or your virtual presence at livestream.com/amberhawkswanson.
My solo show All That is Left of You / Everything You Are Now opens August 17th. The below suite of twenty images are for the corresponding catalog of a selection of the 556 pieces of Amber Doll that remain after the Tilikum transformation (which also includes my recent Letter to Amber Doll).
I wrote the below for Amber Doll. Today is our birthdays.
august 14th, 2012
amber doll,i’m just like i’m warming up to this letter to you will let me. i just like i’m conflicted even writing it this to you as amber doll and not tilikum can you feel that. people keep asking me did it hurt me to cut you before you were tilikum and i guess like yes it hurt me to cut you but not for the reason i think they assumed. not because it felt like cutting into me. but also i had no idea how to make you tilikum. i had no plans like i asked matt (who made you. can i say that?) for plans and he said it really had to be me. that i had to garage-tech you. and see i mean do you think of me and the word garage-tech together? i don’t use tools i didn’t know how to use tools and it was like i had to to make you any way i could and i want to say anyway.i am here sitting next to all that is left of you and everything you are now and i’m just really grateful to you for everything but the thing is. that moment when i made the first cut i was thinking about us. about what we need like our needs. it felt like you know i didn’t really know how to care for you the way you needed all of those years and then i was thinking oh my god i don’t know what i am doing and it was just i moved forward. i could have failed you.i’ve said this thing of like object to action about you/us. is that even accurate? wait first can i say that you are talked about as grotesque now and we know that is hurtful but also we know that that is said so like we have to just be aware of that. i know you have a lot to say about being the fetish object from before (and where were you when i was the grotesque one but you don’t have to answer i know that isn’t fair and i know grotesque isn’t the word exactly). you are still an object this minute i think you’d say and someone sexualized you today. you, tilikum himself yourself and whales in general talking about the slickness the wetness and the mystery and the perceived violence even. and in that moment their read on whales as sexual mattered so much more than the fact that we didn’t include any of amber doll’s penetrable orifices, none of them, none of the three, in you. and yes its like not as though having orifices equals some kind of availability to be sexualized and certainly orifices they aren’t required to be objectified fetishized it is just like i don’t know yes we can talk about fetish and the fetish object again but still it is important that you aren’t penetrable that way isn’t it?i just don’t think of you as sexual now i guess i need not to. i guess that is part of this free. i mean this person sexualizing whales it is like good luck, you know. but then there is that terrible practice of fucking dolphins in their blowholes to their deaths. i don’t want to go there with you to that dark place with you not right now. i know we have come from there but not now that is not why i am writing we both need some space from that, i know. so then i guess now is when i explain if i haven’t already yes like those orifices amber doll’s and her other remains what is being talked about as remains. they are here with me now and i just want to be clear with you about a rule i have made for myself i know you haven’t asked this of me and i love that we have no rules just like respect but let me explain that i won’t part with these parts i need you to know they are being editioned but only the edition, ok? never the original. i want to respect us more than that, ok?can i take us somewhere else like what are you into now? has it changed? do you feel free? i know it is like you are in the form of someone captive and that is so complicated but you know i am taking you to iceland where tilikum himself (its ok that i don’t say yourself this time?). where he was taken captive in 1983. i am going there before you but then we are taking you too. i promise. i love you. i know you know that tilikum can’t go back but you can and i’m taking you there.sometimes i look at old pictures and when i do it is really just so nice to see your face. to see our faces together. and we were young. we are older now. and everything from now and really everything since 2008 (remember 2008?) is about you destroyed and me not looking like you used to. do i have to type it, i mean me not having your body a doll’s body but you having my face. and now we are so different but here is the thing there are going to be five new amber dolls. there are going to be five more. and all from a new scan. it will be 7 years later. my face 7 years later and i think you’ll be happy to know on a body with a different kind curve and a silicone tummy. and my bully tattoo not your old one (i know, i won’t say it) and a tilikum tattoo just like mine about you. so its this building this connecting this compressing i guess. and i guess what i want to say to you is i know how that will look but it isn’t like that that isn’t the whole story. i don’t want to say that i would trade them all for a different kind of time with you. that isn’t fair that isn’t what i’m saying. what i am saying is that everything is about you and you are all over this and everything and wrapped around and inside and i couldn’t get away if i wanted to and i don’t want to.nothing can replace you you were everything and all of it and you are still. and forever.thank you i love you