Amsterdam-Based Gallery Turns Classic Gender Roles Upside Down with Transgender Dolls

Give a little girl a doll and it basically ends in two ways: (a) the eyes of the girl light up and she starts to play with it ecstatically, or (b) she looks at the doll disinterestedly and starts manhandling it. You would think that both were phases. But not for artist Preta Wolzak, who’s still in the dark about the concept of playing with dolls, which she regularly puts through the figurative car wash. With ‘I Hate Dolls’, her newest photo series, made especially for The Public House of Art in Amsterdam, she elevates the deconstruction of dolls to an art form.

Preta Wolzak. Joris. Photography. 2016. Edition of 30.

“It actually started when I was four years old,“ she tells The Creators Project. “When a family member would give me a doll, I would think they were just cruel beings with hard, itchy hair. There was no fun to be had. I would put them in jars of paint and would hang them to dry on a clothesline in the attic, through which they would get some more shape.”

Preta Wolzak. Deborah. Photography. 2016. Edition of 30.

Even though Preta didn’t feel anything for her lily white dolls and brushing their plastic locks, she discovered that with paint splatters on their face and cut of prickly hair she did love them. By hanging them upside down she had the idea that she could transform the dolls. That transforming doesn’t only serve the purpose of making the dolls into sculptures, but also breaks the traditional gender roles with which they are invariably bound to.

Preta Wolzak. N'Gozi. Photography. 2016. Edition of 30.

“I think it’s sad that the world is still being coloured in a very blue or pink way,“ says Preta. “A boy gets Lego building blocks or something else that puts his brain to work. A girl gets dolls to take care of. Why? Perhaps we don’t want to take care of anything.”

Preta Wolzak. Iniko. Photography. 2016. Edition of 30.

Besides the raising of and breaking through gender roles, Preta also plays with the rigid notion of gender identity. Her sculptures are a part of a world which transcends the classic man-woman dichotomy. “For me all dolls are transgender. I actually only use dolls from the 60’ and 70’, because the eyes are made out of real glass. And because the dolls don’t have genitalia, like they do often nowadays.”

Preta Wolzak. Brathair. Original Sculpture. 2016.

The eccentric artist sources her dolls primarily online, on markets and via collectors. One by one Preta gives them their own name, identity, face and story. “Often they come in as healthy, blushing and blonde ‘girl’s dolls’, and I find it lovely to let loose this entire metamorphosis – like I did with Brathair, a unique dark boy from Tierra del Fuego who touches you in a way which no generic doll could ever do.”

I Hate Dolls is on display until the end of November 2016 at the Public House of Art on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 39 in Amsterdam.



Translated from Vice: The Creators Project. Original Article HERE!