“I’m the kind of person, once my ‘antenna’ is up, I immediately start ‘receiving,’ ” he wrote via email.
What perked the antenna this time was a New York Times story by Edward Rothstein about the Vent Haven Museum and in particular a photograph of one of the dummies he saw, and upon visiting, he felt a kind of kinship with the dolls
Because many of the dummies are fragile, Rolston did the shooting on-site. Choosing which subjects to include was complicated since there are more than 700 figures on display. He photographed more than 250 and then edited those down to the 100 strongest, “many a Sophie’s Choice,” said Rolston.
“I wanted to photograph the figures that ‘spoke’ to me in a more personal way. This collection of portraits is not about the history of ventriloquism. Instead, it is a personal response to the emanations of humanity that come from these terribly evocative inanimate objects,” Rolston wrote.
Reaction to the project (Rolston is still looking for a gallery to show the work) has been overwhelmingly positive, though Rolston said many people still have negative reactions to dummies. “It seems that the image of the evil or demonized dummy is very much part of popular consciousness due to a number of rather clichéd books and films,” he explained.