After writing about dummy boards in a previous post I've begun to notice how common the dummy board's descendant is in modern culture. It seemed like such an archaic notion, and yet not only do two-dimensional paper and wooden figures lure us into restaurants (see above, a dummy board outside a restaurant in Beijing earlier this year), but they've been employed to add a certain human element, a sense of scale or instructional purpose to objects or products that would otherwise remain mute and characterless. I love the sly grin and the coquettish stance of these two dummy boards in the National Museum of Gardening at Trevarno. (And no, they weren't placed anywhere near each other, despite looking as though they may be in flirtatious conversation.)
In Sweden at new year, the house we were staying in Nensjö was home to this little dummy board. She was created in 1931 (handwritten in ink on the reverse) and is probably about 15 cm high. Whether she was produced commercially or as a gift by a friend is unsure, but clearly she was made by backing a photograph with some sort of plywood. She's by far the most compelling snapshot I've seen, and all because she's been cut out and removed from her background, allowing her to really nestle into whichever landscape she's placed in. All of us staying at the house commented on her. We talked about devising our own series of figures for the entire group, even going so far as to pose everyone outside in the snow for the shots from which we could create each individual character.
I'm still not entirely sure why I've become so fixated with these figures, but link it back to work that I created at the end of my fellowship at the British Library. The various photo montages are still pinned to my wall and there's a pile of junk shop snapshots that I've been gathering beneath them, which I intend to work on in a similar way. Only now I want to scale it up a little.
Couple II © Lizzie Ridout
Friends I © Lizzie Ridout
Couple I © Lizzie Ridout