Rebecca Martinez

born in 1950, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Lives in San Francisco, USA

preTenders (2010)

This project is the latest incarnation of my work which explores different aspects of the artificial; the motivations and impulses to create illusionary situations and objects.

This series, preTenders, examines the ‘reborn’ baby doll subculture; their creators and collectors.

These dolls are created to look and feel as close as possible to living babies. They are constructed and weighted to feel like an infant, which usually includes a head that must be supported while in one’s arms. Some are baby scented, include mechanisms that make them appear to breathe, have beating hearts, or are warm to the touch.

These ‘reborns’ trigger very powerful emotions, usually the biological impulse to nurture. I occasionally witness cases of revulsion (the beholder feels the baby is dead). For some, it is an opportunity to do something inappropriate with the ‘baby’.

The vast majority of human population of this unusual subculture are women. The women who create these babies call their businesses nurseries. The women who purchase these artificial babies are adoptive mothers and receive birth certificates, complete with the date of birth, weight and length of the ‘baby’.

There is a wide spectrum of motives for being involved with the ‘reborns’. Most of the ‘reborner’ women I have encountered are exceptionally loving nurturers and caregivers. They have an especially strong passion for babies and this is a method to keep them in their lives. Some create or collect these dolls because they can no longer give birth to living babies, or cannot have their own, or have lost a child.

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