22 Words

Single woman spends 14 years with mannequin family to make a point [17 pictures]

Feb 27, 2014 By Jake Johnson 371

After hearing the same question over and over from friends and family — “Why aren’t you married yet?” — art director Suzanne Heintz got tired of it and set out to do something about it. She got herself a little family…of mannequins.

Over the course of 14 years and 10,000 miles of travel, she took her fake family everywhere and took all kinds of “family” pictures….

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See more of Suzanne’s pictures, and explore her other work.

(via So Bad So Good)

371 Comments

    1. Maggie says:

      Brilliant! Amazing that people don’t get that this is art. But then, I was just realizing today that there are a lot of people out there who take everything absolutely literally, and there’s no room in their minds for art or humor. I hope that changes for them because they’re missing out on so much. Anyway, Suzanne, thanks for the belly laugh!

    2. Laura says:

      That’s the point. She’s underlining the fact that for many people, a family seems to be little better than a trophy or badge to prove that someone has succeeded at fulfilling society’s expectations of them. How many families look great in photographs but are actually empty inside? The point is not to condemn family life, but to refuse to accept that a good life is simply one that looks good to other people.

      1. Kira says:

        All it does is show that she was so desperate to prove that she didn’t need to spend time with anyone or marry or date anyone that she spent over a decade with a fake family to make herself feel better.

        That does the opposite of what she thinks it does. It’s like buying 20 cats because people keep asking in passing, polite conversation if you’re married or seeing anyone and turning around, knotted hair and smelling like cat urine, eye twitching, saying “I AM MARRIED! SEE MY FAMILY! AAAHAHAHA IM A NORMAL PERSON”.

        What this woman has done is just desperately sad. If she doesn’t feel like she needs anyone, then she wouldn’t have felt the need to so pathetically prove it to everyone else but herself.

        1. Mel says:

          Kira, I agree. I find this display creepy and sad. I could understand taking a couple of pictures with the mannequins to prove her point, but 14 years worth?? She would have been better going to therapy.

          1. normalguy says:

            If you really think she is doing this to “prove” she has real family, or make herself feel “normal”, then you are a moron. And yes its creepy thats the point. Not everybody is the same, in lifestyle, and in wits.

        2. julecm1 says:

          I completely disagree. This is a very artistic reply to the age-old question, very cleverly done. I want to say her family is much more agreeable to me than my own family, and I suspect that’s at least part of her statement. Very richly and wonderfully done. I doubt she’s any sadder or more desperate than anyone else on this planet.

        3. Mr T says:

          I’m with Kira. I felt sorry for her.

          She spent 10 years travelling, and instead of showing the Travelling lifestyle she could’ve had, showing everyone that family is not important, she lugged around mannequins, which would inevitably get people to ask about them so that she can tell her story and “prove her point”. She’s going out of her way to show that family is nothing. 14 years!!! Simply tells me that that’s what she longs for most!

          And if you tell me “I don’t get art” I’ll simply say “If that’s what you think then you’re welcome to think it. I’m not gonna go out of my way to prove you wrong”. All I’ll say is “Just look at what the artists that remained in history painted (including Picasso whom I still trying to understand what drugs he was on lol)

          1. KA says:

            Really… you think she did this every day 24/7 for ten years? REALLY? No, these are staged vignettes that she probably entertained now and then as part of her project during her ten glorious years of travel. If you really think this is ALL she did, then you should have your voting card revoked because critical thinking is not a skill set of yours. Sorry. But you don’t get it. Period.

          2. Rachel says:

            Who says she didn’t rock it when she was traveling, but take a day to do a photo op? Tax-free travel. Sign me up.

        4. Angela A says:

          Uh, no. No, no, no. Mannequins don’t serve that purpose psychologically, and making these photos and dragging around those mannequins and photographing them would be a burden rather than any kind of pleasure in itself. She must have been very interested and impassioned by the fact that so many people assumed she could not be content without a husband and kids. She used the thing that *did* fill her life–art–to explore and challenge that assumption. I can understand it–women friends of mine who don’t have children and/or life partners often do amazing things creatively and/or in their careers, and despite all that, other people remain preoccupied with their ovaries and their marital status. Ridiculous.

          1. Deborah T says:

            I agree with Angela. This is a wonderful art project. She is not driven by desperation but driven by the will to create art about her personal circumstances. These photos are hilarious commentary on the way we document aspects of our lives. I love it!

          2. cheryl says:

            You’re invisiblizing the amount of crap which breeders throw at single women. The refrain “you’re nothing without a man” is constant. And because it is constant and extremely annoying, it doesn’t surprise me that someone who is happy without a family, would do this.

            The other thing is, you’re also oblivious to how hard a woman has to work, to avoid getting pregnant. And how many men a single woman has to reject in a day. Dang, I’ve had men bring up the subject of marriage after talking to me in an elevator for 30 seconds. And don’t get me started on married men who are looking for a little love on the side. Marriage and kids (or just a one-night hookup) are easy to get if that’s what someone wants. It takes way more effort to avoid.

        5. A Goddamn Realist says:

          Do you really think she carried around these two mannequins wherever she went just to make herself feel better? That’s preposterous.

        6. Sarah says:

          this is ART. These photos are very, very good! All these shots had to take a LONG time to set up. This isn’t some sad lady dragging around dolls taking cell phone pix. These are beautifully shot, professional photographs shot with expensive photography equipment as a personal art project.

          1. Carol says:

            I agree with you, Sarah. And as well as all that, the photos are very funny. I love the facial expressions – especially the artist’s extra wide smiles! It’s all very well done and I’m sure not to be taken as anything other than an interesting, artistic and entertaining message. Well done to Suzanne Heintz, I reckon!

        7. Andie says:

          That’s not even close. Did you notice how she was dressed? And how her fake family was dressed? They were dressed like they were in the 50′s, before many women’s rights, and when the ideal family was a very tangible thing. She carried around a fake family as a satirization of the ideal family. Why would she do that? Because she thinks it’s bogus that she’s not a normal person if she doesn’t have a family, and she wants to show the world how ridiculous that is by over-doing it with a fake family. Does that help?

        8. P says:

          She has made ART…that is what she has done. She has taken negative comments from family and friends about her desire to love her life being a single woman. And embracing that fact. Because it is so “amusing” for others to have this strong opinion of what is best for everyone else’s lives. So she had fun with pretending to be what those “friends” were suggesting she ought to have. I think it is brilliant. Bravo Suzanne! I really want to watch the whole piece. Vive l’ART! ;o)

        9. Marty says:

          “Suzanne Heintz is an Art Director specializing in Motion Design and Live Action for Television. She is also a Photographer, and is based in Denver, Colorado…”

          I highly doubt that someone who is fulfilling her passion through creativity and art is a sad person. It’s a shame you see it as a 14 year attempt at trying to ‘prove’ herself rather than someone who spent 14 years merely doing what makes her happy. And yeah, you clearly don’t understand art.
          Bye.

        10. joans says:

          I think she’s frustrated and inspired. Not desperate or sad. these photos were taken over a long period of time, and certainly she didn’t spend her free time with the mannequins — they are props for one of many projects she was working on that she only broke out once every few months. You make it sound like she was living with dummies (the crazy cat lady comparison, so off base). And that’s the point of the photos. She doesn’t want a family because she’s happy being single (as in not married, that doesn’t mean she’s even single). These photos are a reaction to people like YOU, kira, who assume a person cannot be happy on their own. You need to stop being judgmental and acknowledge that your formula for happy is not everyone else’s formula.

        11. rayanne says:

          To all the naysayers, especially Kira, I am going to reiterate that this is ART, pure and simple. I am a single, over 40, unmarried photographer and I’m very happy. As an artist, we get great joy out of creating. For some people, their greatest joy is their children/husband/family. You are in a different mindset and can’t see out of your box. You are the same people who feel sorry for us and lament that we are not married. This is totally unnecessary. You are projecting your values and beliefs onto us. If you don’t see the humor and irony in this woman’s work, that’s fine. If you make vast assumptions as to why she created this work and pity her, then you should really be pointing the finger at yourself because you are the one to be pitied for your very small life. Life and art are fluid and creative as is my life. If I meet someone – then great! If I don’t, also great because I’ve created a fabulous life that isn’t contingent on societal norms. When people criticize others it’s usually because they are unhappy with their own situation. Look within and resolve what’s suffering in your own heart so that you don’t have to put your negative energy out in the world.

        12. Kari says:

          Art is in the eye of the beholder, to be sure, however I feel like you missed the point of this piece, entirely. Did you watch the video in which she clearly explains that she tired of being asked why she wasn’t married? The question itself implies that anything less is, well, less-than. Her response? “I have the right to decide how my life looks, and you know what? So do you!” Empowering, yes, desperate, no.

        13. Rachel says:

          It shows in the video from Sunday Morning that she does have a bf. She is just being satiric. Sort of like Mary Hartman Mary Hartman.

      2. Silas says:

        ”How many families look great in photographs but are actually empty inside?”

        I have no idea, do you? From my own experience, I can’t think of many that would fit that description. People have got their problems, some more than others, but come on.

      3. Banhorn says:

        You’ve nailed it Laura. Very succinct and hopefully people who happen upon this story take time to read your comment.

      4. Andrew says:

        Your description is more concise and has far greater depth than the accompanying video. I agree with you, but I think the artist herself could make this point more clearly.

    3. Jonny Stiff says:

      I must have clicked the wrong link; i was just on this great mannequin Fetish site and now this!!!! :)

    4. Lauren says:

      How is everyone so nasty about this?! How is this making everyone so mad?? Not all art has to be an insight to their soul, u know. I mean, seriously people… relax. Maybe she wanted to travel anyway. Maybe she has many hobbies. Maybe it started as a joke and it took off and people supported her. Maybe people simply do things because they find it amusing. I know, its a crazy thought, to do something for your own amusement, but just TRY to imagine a life where someone just does not give a fuck about what society thinks of them. I know its against all nature to just do something for yourself, but there are some people out there that aren’t terrified on a daily basis of what others say about them and sleep just fine at night, happy with who THEY know they are. I applaud her for this. For the detail, the story behind it, the way it started, her commitment to her art and what it says. Do u all criticize all artists that do something different? Isn’t that what artists are? Constantly rearranging reality? Lighten up dudes. Its not your life, stop being bitter that a single person can travel around the world and you cant.

      1. joans says:

        Exactly Lauren. Just based on the time span it looks like the traveling just happened naturally and she brought the mannequins along for a few shots since it would be ideal to capture that family dynamic.

    5. Mr. Wonderful says:

      Any of you concerned souls who think she’s “sad” or “desperate,” click her hotlinked name at the top of the page and watch the short video. I’ll settle for being that sad and desperate any day.

        1. Sissi says:

          And the photos are great. Granted. Not too fond of the explanation thingy in the vid, because – see my earlier post above -, but there you go: i like the art, I like the obvious fun, I can absolutely not relate to the idea behind it and that’s no big deal. Just like being unmarried. And or single.

        2. Luka says:

          I guess it could be because that answer (“because I like being single) just doesn’t cut it to most who consider “wy aren’t you married yet?” as a reasonable question. To that sort of people it’s undoubtebly more efficient to reply with a nice photo set of a fake family: a brilliant answer to a stupid question.

          (Heck, coming to think of it – I could borrow her idea. Not to a full-scale, but maybe putting a photo of a handsome mannequin into my wallet or handbag the next time about to meet some of those relatives or friends who used to be teen moms and then turned into housewives: “oh, it’s so nice you asked! Here’s my boyfriend, we met last winter on skiing holiday, isn’t he handsome!?” :D )

      1. Dean James says:

        It’s art – she will have done these over time. You know, while getting on with her career, life, friends. They’re funny and make a point. I guess it doesn’t count if it doesn’t come through the TV, pandering to stereotypes…the level of credulousness on this thread is terrifying, but at least it explains why propaganda and Fox still find an audience.

        1. april says:

          Exactly. It says she’s an art director. Did you not notice the amazing quality of the photos, the styling? Can The 50′s clothing, etc.? Can you not imagine the work it would have taken to set these up? It is a statement through the use of art.

          1. kathy says:

            I think these pics are great! I’m married and have a kid, but I totally understand how some people just don’t want that for their own lives. This is no different from other photography that is done tongue-in-cheek. I love how she looks very mannequin-like herself. Actually, the style of some of these are very “Vogue”.

            I’d much rather look at these than Warhol’s Soup Can. These actually have a story. The soup can painting is something I see all the time. I admit I couldn’t paint one, but I don’t see why that’s considered higher art than this. I like weird and creepy anyway. Dali is my fav.

          2. Bruce says:

            You understand she didn’t really spend every minute of her life with that fake family right? It’s just an art project that spanned 14 years.

            To me, just the fact that it upsets you is proof that she’s done a good job.

          3. Pepita says:

            Mel, you seem to be taking this woman’s art project really personally, almost as a personal insult. One of the great things about art is that it elicits different emotions in different people. Now, you can sit here calling her names and saying she’s creepy OR you can go that little bit further and ask yourself why you have this reaction to her work. What is it about her work and the ethos behind it makes you react so negatively to the point that you make unfounded assumptions about a total stranger? Sounds like a little bit of self-examination would do you some good.

      2. Sarah says:

        She spent years because that is what artists do. I’m a photographer, so I get it. As photographers we are demanded by peers and other photographers to have “projects” many long-term projects. I think this is something she did once in a while over those years, probably not every day. Instead of tending to a real family, she has all day every day to create art.

    1. Kellic says:

      Robin,

      Because there is a stigma in America that looks down on women who aren’t married, and god help you if you are a single woman with a child. I have a friend who was just that and her neighbors were borderline aholes to her.
      that said……14 years!?! A year maybe. 14? What a waste of one’s life.

      1. Lynx says:

        Just for fun, couldn’t one say that about sticking it out with one’s living family? How dare you – her child has only been with her 14 years, you can’t expect her mother to ABANDON her so soon!

      2. Hally says:

        Ok, seriously people, I doubt she spent every waking moment of those 14 years just lugging around those mannequins… She probably did a few photos here and there every year… Some art projects do take years to be completed.

      3. Sean says:

        We all make mistakes, and if she realises that and is making the best of it, then fine. But if she feels it is totally ok to be unmarried and having kids, then she is sadly mistaken!

        1. Mia says:

          Why is it not ok for HER life? It’s not ok with whom? You? I think it would be more of a mistake to not want family, but marry and have kids just to make everyone else happy.

        2. romana says:

          wait….. sean….you’re joking, right? making the best of it? why is married life better than single life? both are hard, both require compromise, both are fulfilling, beautiful, exciting and fruitful. why is one better than the other? and, statistics prove there are more mistakes made by getting married than mistakes remaining single. look at the divorce rate. I see no suicides from remaining single.

        3. Christina says:

          Yeah, Sean. Because being single, raising children in a peaceful home is SO much worse than raising them in a home where everyone is miserable (and possibly worse, witnessing fighting, verbal and maybe even physical) just for the sake of them being raised by married parents. Please find a time machine and politely make your way back to the 1950′s.

        4. Issy says:

          I hope you’re joking, Sean. There is no “right” way to live a life. Getting married and having children is right for some people, and that’s wonderful. It’s not right for everyone. Personally, I’m not sold on the idea of marriage and I don’t care for children, and guess what? I’m happy! I have a great career, a great relationship, and without the burdens of family life, the time and money to travel and see the world. I have friends who are very fulfilled by family life, and they are also happy, and yet we would be miserable if we switched places. She’s not “making the best” of anything, she’s proving a point with art while being fabulous across the globe.

      4. Pepita says:

        You realise she didn’t spend every minute of the last 14 years doing this, right? She’s an art director so she probably travels internationally for work and just sets up a shoot in the city she happens to be in. And even if she did make these trips especially for the art project…she traveled all over the world! How is that a waste of a life? I’d rather be traveling all over the place, getting dressed up and making art than raising a kid in the suburbs where the furthest you travel is the local WalMart. No one tells professional photographers that travel round the world to photograph sports or wildlife that they’re wasting their lives, but as soon as a woman does it to make a point, she is? Seems pretty judgmental to me.

    2. elvin says:

      Probably because art projects take time and she’s an art director. she could’t quit her job to make this side project come to life. She also traveled a lot that also takes time, money and efford. She’s no magician.

    3. MaryB says:

      Because family and some ‘friends’ will keep asking that question every.single.time. they see you. “Why aren’t you married yet?” So matter how many times she might have stated she likes being single, they will ignore that and keep asking.

      1. kathy says:

        This. Very much. My husband and I have one child and it was only recently that people stopped asking when we were having another. She just turned 12 and the assumption is that most people choose not to have children that far apart, so we’ve finally been let “off the hook” for having to answer that intrusive question. Everyone has accepted that we’re done instead of trying to convince us that we’ll change our minds. I only told people 1,000 times that we weren’t having anymore!!!! They never listen so you have to throw it back in their faces sometimes.

        1. sarah says:

          UGH! I hate that! It doesn’t matter how many time you answer someone’s question, if it isn’t the answer they want, they just keep asking! My son is 4, they still haven’t stopped asking when he is getting a sibling

    4. Taco says:

      Not everyone is lucky enough to have a family like that. I would hate to have one of those families who’s like, “Yeah, okay, but what about grandchildren? How will you not being married make us look? How can you be so selfish?” etc. every time you talk to them.

    5. Stephy says:

      That shit does not work. I’m only 27 and I’m already having to fight off questions. Within the next few years, a bulk of my friends will be married and/or have kids (already started) and as I grow older, I know it won’t just be a matter of “why are you single?” but “you SAY you like being single, but you’re clearly unhappy”, “ohhh, you’re left behind :(“, “don’t you feel weird that all your friends are mothers but you aren’t? Do you hang around 20 something year olds?”, “soooo, is that it?”. But I think this is a witty way of exploring the idea of family and the female experience.

    6. T.R. says:

      I’m sure she has MANY, MANY times. When you get asked that question hundreds of times and the answer you give is constantly rejected, it gets very frustrating. I was single until I was 35 and I heard it over and over. I love her response, it’s hilarious.

        1. Rachel says:

          He can’t even be bothered to crack a smile every once in a while. As if it would kill him to acknowledge that they are having fun together….

    1. ella says:

      Serious question: What made you need to insult this woman and belittle her work? Just to be cruel and unkind (which isn’t a real answer, there’s some reason you felt the need to be a bully): Because you don’t understand it, or because the idea behind it intimidates you? She didn’t work on this every day, week, or month of her life. A long-term art project might be pulled out a few times a year. Showing the length of time was crucial to the piece.

      1. Kira says:

        Ah yes, when someone is faced with criticism of their actions and their clear mental instability they resort to “what’s wrong with YOU!”

        SHE made this public. Not us. The Internet is not a tiny, safe, secure place for your feelings, dear. If you can’t handle criticism, don’t make your personality disorder a public statement. And if you can’t handle criticism of others on the Internet? Then perhaps you need to deal with that instead.

        1. Kpura says:

          Kira, are you stupid or what? Seriously, why do you say that an artist that has developed a project during “X” number of years based on a subject that interest her has a “clear mental instability”? Is not like is the only thing she’s been doing day and night…comparing her to a “cat lady” only shows your deep ignorance and BTW saying that “internet is not a safe place for your feelings” clearly shows your own mental issues.

          So all the people involved in the making of any saga of movies, all the Spiderman moves for instance, are psychos, just because they keep going back to the same subject over and over again? Take your feelings and opinions and stick them up where they fit best…

        2. Mel says:

          Bingo! 1 voice of common sense in a sea of enablers and excusers. “Oh but it’s art!!!!” is not reason enough to overlook obsessive and creepy behavior.

          1. Larfy MacGuillicuttles says:

            Not very original art ether. I gave this sad individual’s lack of creativity two big fat,hairy, creepy thumbs down…

            And then I went out into the garage and tried to beat some sense into that dull, brain-dead lazy excuse for a mannekin wife of mine. Muahahaha.

            The right people will certainly be offended.

    1. Kitty says:

      That’s called creative outlet. Love the realist feel of the images with the fakeness and artificiality of many marriages around us.

    2. Jenny says:

      Title should have been Single woman spends 14 years proving she’s alittle crazy. First date: “So what do you do for fun?” “Oh I travel the world with a couple mannequins and take pictures pretending they are my family. Want to see some pictures?” I bet she stays the next 14 years single.

      1. ella says:

        I bet she has no problem with staying single the next 14 years. Did the point fly ENTIRELY over your head because you’d rather be catty to other women than think?

        1. Kira says:

          It seems a lot of her supporters, like you Ella, are the only ones missing the point.

          If she “don’t need no man” *snaps fingers* then she didn’t need to spend 14 years trying to justify it in a public, mentally unhinged way.

          That just proves her own point wrong.

          1. Mel says:

            Kira, you are SPOT ON. Don’t let these enablers excuse this woman’s creepy and obsessive behavior.

          2. sarah says:

            She isn’t “proving” that she doesn’t need a family. She doesn’t NEED to prove this! The entire thing is a satire on human relationships. How many pictures look perfect and then seconds before, or seconds after, everyone was fighting? But it looks great for the pictures. And it likely took 14 years because she didn’t take off for an entire year to do this. She had to do the pictures around her REAL life.

          3. Stephy says:

            She’s not trying to PROVE that she “don’t need no man”. She makes it pretty clear in the video that she’s confounded by the fact that in the 21st century, a woman’s happiness is fundamentally measured on marriage and the family, that a woman who chooses to not be married or have kids is somehow flawed and insane therefore, it vetoes their initial decision. Therefore, “I want to be single” is not a good enough answer. And it isn’t. As I get older, I can’t just say “I don’t want to get married”, strangers and close friends alike, have started to ask me “why?”.

            As an artist I think she’s explored the topic in a pretty witty way which opens up a lot of discussion, which is what I think art’s meant to do, especially when it’s gendered and political. The fact this piece of work has spanned over 14 years, is not really surprising. A lot of artists who are dedicated to the exploration of a theme, whether it’s within one or across many pieces, will work on that art and put as much effort and dedication into it until they are satisfied with their contribution.

          4. Pepita says:

            The fact that you’re so, so pissed off by this work that you feel the need to question her mental health proves that it was worth making.
            FYI, that’s called “gaslighting” and is a terrible, terrible tactic that’s been used against women since the dawn of time. Calling a woman “crazy” and “psycho” to undermine her so no one takes her seriously is just a really gross thing to do.
            You can critique the art, but when you start making personal remarks about the artist, it reveals a lot more about you than it does about her.

      2. Noelle says:

        She /wants/ to be single. That’s the whole point. But she’s also not crazy — she’s an artist. It’s not like she spends every waking moment with the mannequins, actually pretending they’re her family for emotional comfort.

        She’s dedicated to a project and has executed it with incredible skill. Instead of being received with support, she is being met with the snotty remarks that made her want to start the project in the first place — from people who just can’t see beyond their own little bubble.

    3. Dana W says:

      You just made her point. Anyone who is not married with a kid (Or does not want to be) is slammed and slandered. Congrats. You are part of the problem.

      1. Kira says:

        Sigh.

        Anyone not married with a kid is treated like a normal human being.

        Crazy people who attention whore their relationship insecurity on a public forum to “prove” they are not insecure about relationship are well worth criticising.

        1. M says:

          As a not married, childless person I can tell you that no, we are often not treated like normal human beings. I often get questioned about my choices, or get “the look” when I say that I am single by choice or childless by choice like they pity me beyond belief. There are also the people who tell me I’ll change my mind or try to debate me into changing my mind.

          Saying “I like being single” is also not a response that works very well. People seem to think that it’s their business to lecture women over and over about their love life or their choices to have children. It is incredibly annoying. So I actually like this art piece a lot.

          1. kathy says:

            Yes! People ARE often treated like crap when they don’t do the “normal” thing. Kira, you may not do it and people should thank you for being kind, but there are assholes out there who practically badger people for not making a certain choice.

            I stated in another comment that people kept asking me when I was going to have more kids. We stopped at one for our own reasons. No matter how many times I’d tell them we’re done with one, they wouldn’t listen. They’d just tell me I’d “change my mind” and give a little wink like they know me better than I do. It took about a decade for people to stop asking if we were going to have more. I think they stopped asking because they believe I wouldn’t have children 12 years apart. If I did end up pregnant, they’d assume it was an accident and make jokes because no one would wait this long between kids! It really is intrusive and no one’s business but people do it all the time and I think this woman did a fine job of making light of the annoyance while telling them off at the same time.

        2. sarah says:

          Married with no children is no different. Or married without 2 kids. If you aren’t the standard, ppl look at you like you are weird. And the standard in the US is married with 2 kids, a dog, and a house in the suburbs. Deviate from that, and ppl think that you LONG for that. Tell them that isn’t your dream, and they think you are crazy.

        3. Charmaine says:

          Kira you’re missing the point entirely. She’s not proving anything and she’s not “whoring” her relationship insecurity. I’m a happily married mother of two and I can appreciate what she’s done. I really pity your small mindedness.

        4. Sarah says:

          I would just like to salute all the sane and reasonable art fans/readers who have managed to almost completely disregard the trolls in this thread!

      2. Mel says:

        No Dana W, you have missed the point entirely. It isn’t that this woman has chosen to be single, it’s that she took the question “why aren’t you married?” and responded in a thoroughly unhinged way. I can see one or two pictures, but 14 years worth? That’s sad and smacks of the need for therapy. All she proved is that yes, she should stay single. Absolutely.

        1. Beck says:

          This woman is a successful artist who dedicated herself to a project that meant something to her, and obviously many other women around the world. You and “Kira” dedicate your time to trying to put her down on an internet message board. You think it’s crazy that this artist spent years working on the same project, yet you jealous girls have spent all day trying to make the same pointless argument. I think we all know who the “unhinged” ones are.

    4. ella says:

      I think it’s very telling that it’s women insulting her. This obviously intimidates you. She didn’t work on this every day, week, or month of her life. A long-term art project might be pulled out a few times a year. Showing the length of time was crucial to the piece.

      1. Kira says:

        Oh dear, it intimidates women? Sweetie, she was so intimidated by polite, casual conversation regarding basic day-to-day topics that are an incredibly widespread cultural norm to speak about, that she needed to spend over a decade desperately trying to prove she wasn’t insecure and mentally unstable to OTHERS on a public forum instead of herself.

        Her being a single mother, unmarried, a virgin, forever single or even a lesbian is completely normal and nobody here would hold any judgement for her over it.

        Her desperately seeking attention and approval for her mentally unbalanced relationship insecurity isn’t, nor should it be, worthy of praise. It seems you’re a little insecure about yourself if you need to keep latching onto her as if what she’s done is normal or logical.

        1. Klutzz says:

          lol “she’s desperate and attention seeking” you say while desperately seeking for attention on a comment section.

        2. Gaston says:

          Yea, had to come on here to say this but: your entire analysis is not only factually incorrect [she's not single] but it’s also extremely limited.

          A) It’s not a widespread cultural norm. Why? Because you have to define into existence ‘what’s’ being talked about here. Marriage? According to whom and what customs? Certainly you don’t mean to say that anything North Americanized = ‘norm’. Even within North America, there are divergent cultural streams, so the only thing you’ve managed to define into being with your assumption is your own bias. And though your bias does come from something ‘real’, it is *not*, in and of itself, the totality of all that ‘is.’ Humble yourself.

          B) If by ‘intimidated’ you mean ‘provoked by the lack of mutual respect present in such accusations into creating a creative response’, then sure, she was ‘intimidated.’ Outside of this rather skewed defintion, it’s not even remotely close to being ‘intimidation’ to respond the way she did, and this only shows yet *again* how much you lack in your empathy skills. Learn to relate before you try to dissuade, otherwise your arguments will *always* miss the forest for the trees.

          C) Politeness is meaningless outside of context. Proof? I can ‘politely’ use racial slurs in the common parlance that usually defined such social/historical contexts as ‘Jim-crow’ and “slavery,’ but that wouldn’t change the derogatory nature of those terms in the slightest. It’s offensive to *assume* that anything that falls outside the neat confines of *your* norm is somehow a ‘lack’ when it apply to anyone else but *you*. [Note: I'm a black man, so I feel I have the right to use this example to illustrate my point :P]

          D) Insecurity is having the courage to speak up against such ill-formed assessments based on criteria of ‘worth’ chosen *for* you…rather, this is the *height* of self-confidence and internal-security – you assert your right to define yourself in and through these acts of resistance to external definitions. The fact that you label this response ‘insecure’, as if she wasn’t even provoked into the response in the first place, only reveals just how much you *want* to not see the truth: that her opinion is more than just valid – it’s NECESSARY. You are a fine example of the reason that motivates her art.

          E) “Her being a single mother, unmarried, a virgin, forever single or even a lesbian is completely normal and nobody here would hold any judgement for her over it.”

          Is that why you just spent your previous paragraph insulting her for features that she, herself, do not have? Yea, right….non-judgmental my ass.

          F) “Her desperately seeking attention and approval for her mentally unbalanced relationship insecurity isn’t, nor should it be, worthy of praise.”

          You keep tacking on these descriptors ['insecurity' has suddenly morphed into 'mentally unbalanced relationship insecurity' without you demonstrating an ounce of proof for the former claim in the first place] as if they say anything about the situation, when they don’t. Without evidence to back them up, you’re doing is revealing your bias…and your state of mind.

      2. Mel says:

        I see where you’re going with this, ella. So let’s see, since you don’t like what Kira is saying, that must mean that you find her intimidating. Is that about right?

    5. Brian says:

      I think you’ve made her point. Did you need a ring on your finger to prove you’re worthy? #bully

  1. Rich D'Auria says:

    She is displaying a cool sense of humor, which some of you don’t get! However, her poor mannequin daughter is missing the little finger on her left hand and none of you mentioned Child Abuse! :)

    1. Bill says:

      Worse than that, the poor kid never hit puberty. A GOOD mother would have taken her to see a specialist by the time she was 16.

  2. Samma says:

    I think that was a little bit of an over-reaction. This borders insane. 14 years with a “mannequin family?” She cracked LONG ago.

  3. Jake Johnson says:

    It’s worth remembering that it’s an art project. She didn’t spend 14 years day in and day out with mannequins. She made a couple trips a year to build the portfolio of pictures.

      1. Toby Mason says:

        Yeah, it’s pretty incredible that people can’t recognize art when they see it. They must think she dresses that glam and has a professional camera setup following her all the time. ? I guess this attention grabbing deceptive headline is to blame for confusing people who have lost their critical thinking faculties.

          1. David says:

            The pictures and video are fun. I am glad that though most of the video, and many of the pictures on this page center around a trip to Paris, one of my favorite pieces of Americana kitsch shows up in the video at 1:21. Nice balance.

          2. Bouncyweee says:

            Bwahahaha. Oh, people taking this seriously is just making my day. Wow, human. Are. Dumb. Hee hee hee. Brilliant project. I love it.

          3. Brian says:

            Keep it up, S! Your work is great. It obviously touches a nerve with a lot of unhappy people.

          4. estproph says:

            Good art is supposed to not only inspire, but upset the complacent. Looks like you’ve done both!

    1. Trix says:

      Yeah, some of these comments! 50′s-style outfits? Stereotypical settings? Over-saturated Kodachrome colours?

      Art, people, art!!

      1. Dean James says:

        “MsAmericanPatriot says:
        On an episode of Nat Geo’s Taboo it shows that people get the jollies off on mannequins. She comes across as one of those types for sure. Disgusting and pathetic.”

        Patriots, eh? hahahahahahahahahaha!! Making a point in anything other than words of one syllable – waste of time. And when you use those words, be sure not to say a naughty one, or you’ll get the standard response of ‘do you kiss your mama with that mouth?’…not only have they not beyond the fact there are NO ‘bad’ words, they think they’re ACTUALLY dirty! *head-desk*

    2. Bepp says:

      YES! Thank you!

      This project is awesome, intelligent and fun. I’m happy I’m not living the life of any of the killjoys here who completely fail to understand this fact.

  4. MsAmericanPatriot says:

    On an episode of Nat Geo’s Taboo it shows that people get the jollies off on mannequins. She comes across as one of those types for sure. Disgusting and pathetic.

    1. pilvikki says:

      wow! here’s a real ms american patriot! just what you need…

      for sure.

      and a this is actually a prime example of what disgusting and pathetic real mean. + arrogant and self-righteous.

    2. Hellen Skelter says:

      I love this. I love reading comments about art from people who don’t give a shit about art. As someone who has spent hundreds of hours listening to art historians discuss art, I think people forget that the opinions of the typical person, such as MsAmericanPatriot, are valuable. Not because they are correct, but because they are the audience. MsAmericanPatriot is who this piece was created for, which gives it validity, and contributes to the significance of the piece itself. Without comments like these, this project wouldn’t exist. If shallow, dismissive people didn’t look at a project like this, it would be ineffective as a work of art.

  5. Nathan Barnes says:

    I hate when artists do things I don’t understand! It makes me angry and frightened, and I call them names!

    1. Xian Caldwell says:

      Me too! And when I hear others getting outraged and judgy, I have to join right in! I second your name calling!

    2. Kira says:

      It’s amazing that the supporters of this woman need to go to Freudian level fallacies to defend her.

      1. Alyssa-Jayne says:

        It’s amazing that this project bothered Kira so much that she was compelled to spend the next hour of her life responding negatively to every second comment on this page.

    3. Mel says:

      I hate when people just expect everyone to ooh and aah over something just because an “artist” did it. Artists and their art are to be worshipped as gods, without question or criticism. If we don’t, we’ll hurt their little feelings.

      1. Jee says:

        What if she’d spent 14 years (off and on) creating a project in response to people asking her something else? Maybe she gets a lot of pressure to give up the art thing, and get a ‘real’ job. Would you still think she’s crazy if she’d taken photos of herself performing some boring menial task, in a bunch of nice locations she can afford to travel to without a ‘real’ job? Or would you have just shrugged and moved on?

        It’s art, so not everyone’s going to get it. That’s fine, but the fact people’s kneejerk reaction to this particular project is to call her crazy or sad just highlights why it’s still needed.

      2. Ally says:

        Mel, you’re not criticising, you’re just dismissing the project by calling the artist crazy and saying she deserves to be single. If you were actually arguing your perspective, perhaps critiquing the artistic value of the photographs in a constructive manner, you’d likely get very different reactions.

        I personally really like this project: I was single until recently and every other conversation with my family had to do with my relationship status and why I was still single at 23. Also, there are so many family pictures where we all look perfect, even though we’d just been pulling each others’ hair 5 seconds before… So the pictures resonate with me, and I like the use of mannequins to undermine the concept of the “perfect” family.

    1. Dana W says:

      Because she wants to be? She did this to tweak the switch of people like you. And apparently it works great.

  6. Derek says:

    All of these comments: “I can see why she’s single” and that she’s psycho really only drive home the point of the art piece. Instead of understanding on a basic rational level that this woman obviously just took a bunch of pictures over some years and didn’t spend all that much time with some mannequins, people choose to once again try to look at the single woman as flawed- ostensibly for the photos, but really for being single, independent, and making a strong statement about the general pressure and idealization of the nuclear family. It’s just internet laziness, maybe, but interesting that almost everyone reverted to an almost 1950′s judgmental attitude about the woman herself. In short: I think we still have a loooong way to go for changing outdated views of women, and this project and attendant comments drives that home.

    1. Susan says:

      As a single women in my late 40′s I think the perception of women is fine. Just because people think her art work in bizarro and think that makes her a little nuts has absolutely NOTHING to do with perceptions of “women” in general -

      1. Toby Mason says:

        This is art that points a critical finger at a still common social norm that women should at some point get married. I don’t think making art makes someone nuts. If you are taking this article’s headline literally, that is nuts. She obviously didn’t actually treat these mannequins as family; she took some pictures, as artist do.

        The expectation of marriage is fine with you? Or are you saying it’s bizarre to comment on those old-world sentiments?

        1. Joe says:

          It’s fine if someone expects you to get married, that’s just their personal belief. It’s not fine, however, for a person to force you to get married. As far as I understand, that’s not the case in the western world. Since this is art we all interpret it differently. I interpret it as a woman making fun a certain group of people, via a visually pleasing means. As to Derek, I think that people read the misleading headline, scrolled through the pictures, and thought she did have a literal mannequin family. Which if not a reasonable course of thought, is at least understandable. I really don’t think that anyone is viewing a single woman as flawed, I think they thought she had a mannequin family. I also think you have a torch to carry, so you took those comments to fit your views. The subject of this article is the woman herself, naturally it makes sense that’s what people would judge. Also, how is getting married an outdated view? It has existed from ancient times until now, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Honestly, any way you live that doesn’t harm others seems valid to me, but people always insist on making molehills into mountains.

          1. Catrin says:

            He wasn’t saying that getting married was an outdated view. He was saying that it’s outdated and wrong to expect *everyone* to get married or follow the same relationship template, and the idea that there needs to be some sort of pathological reason for someone not to be in a relationship (as evidenced by the ‘I can see why she’s single’ comments) rather than because it just happens to be their circumstance/preference.

            There’s still a lot of social pressure on people to marry or at least commit to a relationship, and people who don’t are often shamed, pathologised and generally treated as if they’ve failed or there’s something wrong with them. They have to deal with getting put on the spot and answering intrusive questions over and over again. Just because you may not have experienced this on a personal level doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And of course it’s nowhere near on a par with something like forced marriage, but that doesn’t mean we should never talk about it or treat it as a problem.

      1. Noah Noel says:

        Derek’s comment is the only sensible comment in this entire page.

        And if you can’t say anything nice, please go somewhere else. Join the other 16 y.o.’s in a thread that centers on Miley & Beiber hate.

        And if you don’t understand this artwork, you probably never will, or you just choose not to, because it’s more fun to criticize & separate yourself from the creativity of others. And yet everything in your house is from Ikea. I think that’s irony.

        Great work, Suzanne Heintz. That series took patience! And I bet the comments here do as well.

    2. Vivian says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment Derek. We do still have a ways to go with the perception of the single woman. I wouldn’t have minded getting married but I grew up in an area of the country that socially frowned upon intelligent women – it wasn’t a desired or valued quality – so I came of age quite shy and embarrassed. Then in my 20s when the dating pool is big and many are meeting and pairing off and starting families I had some pretty severe extenuating circumstances which prevented me from dating much or being able to focus on that. It’s not a huge regret, just what was. Once I got everything solved and then gained confidence, I had some terrific boyfriends and relationships…but I’m sort of beyond the age where people marry and start a family, so I’ve just stayed single. In my age group, I’m often the only single person at jobs, parties or other social events so the dating pool is much smaller. I might marry later, I might not. I enjoy dating and meeting new people and I’ve ended up focusing on a terrific (and time consuming!) fun career. But there are quite often subtle digs about what my hidden issues must be that I wasn’t “picked.” “She’s intelligent, pretty, independent, fun, what is she hiding that she hasn’t been appropriately paired with some man?” I also get the “She must be a lesbian!” It’s so bizarre to me. I hardly ever hear of a man who is single “what is wrong with him that he is single?” Being a single guy just enjoying life/career whatever doesn’t cause that name calling psycho/frigid/cat lady crapola syndrome.

      As for this project, loved it! Thought it was funny, made a point, and the photos are absolutely beautiful.

    3. Bill says:

      I dunno. I kind of like the idea of some psycho woman in love with a mannequin family, playing house for 14 years. I mean c’mon, that makes the art *way* more interesting, all the creepy things I’m projecting onto her (no offense Ms. Heinz :-) This is a really cool project of the “man I wish I’d thought of that!” kind. It’s the Travelocity gnome before there was a travelocity gnome, taken to greater heights. The non-reactions of people in the background is fascinating.

      And isn’t it said that art is in the eye of the beholder? All these people projecting creepiness onto the artist have got to have pretty creepy imaginations themselves.

    4. Kira says:

      Hilariously pathetic, just like her.

      You’re taking the observation of her mental issues and, clear, insecurity regarding relationships and deciding (based solely on criticism of something unrelated to wanting her to be in a relationship) that everyone must want her to be in a relationship.

      Throwing in “OMGZ YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ART” as well? The typical cherry on the cake of any desperate argument failing on its own merits.

      She has every right to be in whatever relationship or lack of relationship she chooses. Nobody here is criticising her for that, especially not for choosing to remain unmarried. The issue is that she’s pathetically seeking attention for her emotional relationship insecurities and expecting the INTERNET, not her friends who have made the comments that spurned this, to sing nothing but praise.

      Sorry, that’s not how this works. Nor will crying over and over again “you don’t understand art”, like some first year College freshmen working at a barista, give you an argument.

      1. Esther says:

        Kira – I understand your intentions, but I honestly don’t think you get the point of this piece. This lady is an artist making a point. Not a mental delusional patient. She obviously KNOWS that this ‘mannequin family’ is not real, nor has any attachments to them. She has real friends, leads a real life, does things that normal people do – like have a project that they might be devoted to. I’m pretty sure what she’s trying to say through this artwork is that she KNOWS these pictures are creepy. That’s precisely the point. That her being single is infinitely better than being in a (both literally and figuratively) fake family that she (both literally and figuratively, again) can’t communicate with. She’s making a statement about a widespread societal problem, as it were, in which some people may get married/stay married just to conform to the social norm, even if they’re unhappy with their families or cannot communicate optimally with their husbands.

        You make it sound like this woman is insecure about not being married and thus has to resort to getting a mannequin family to making herself feel wanted and better. That is completely missing the point. She is broadcasting her message that it is better to be single, and independent, than with a family that may look glamorous, glitzy and poised on the outside, but is essentially vacant and ‘fake’ underneath. All with an amazing sense of humour, I might add. And about your other point – I don’t see where she mentioned that she’d like the Internet (or anyone at all) to give her praise. Where did you come up with that? She’s an artist, she shared her work. It’s as simple as that. Van Gogh, similarly, hoped to share his artistic works in the past. Are you going to call him an insecure prick who expected everyone to sing his praises?

        You may think that the line ‘you don’t understand art’ is cliched. I don’t think that you don’t understand art. I think you don’t have a sense of humour, maybe, is all, or perhaps you tend to take things you see at a surface level. That’s cool. Have a good day :)

      2. Sally says:

        Sweetie, I think you’re the one who actually needs therapy. Step away from this conversation. You obviously need to find more important things in your own life to focus on.

  7. Dawn says:

    Derek- you are sooo right, I never had kids, never wanted them. I have had to explain myself over and over. One of my neighbors has asked me at least 6 times if I was going to have children, I never once have asked her when she is going to stop having children ( 4 and counting). I think this mannequin lady is a riot!!

  8. T.s. says:

    Wow. I am blown away by the nasty, mean responses in these comments. An independent creative woman arranges brilliant, eye-catching, and hilarious pictures, lampooning stereotypes but doing it with charm and wit rather than cynicism…and she gets skewered for being “unhinged” and too weird to *gasp* not actually LIVE that stereotype.

    I love this project and I pity those of you who can’t see the wit and beauty of it. What a mean little world you are plodding through…

  9. Suzanne Heintz says:

    JAKE JOHNSON,

    Thank for the story. Your readers have interesting opinions. Please let them know if they’d like to read about the reason behind the project that they can find it at my new website address, suzanneheintz.com. If you could change your link, I’d greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Suzanne Heintz
    The Crazy, “I can see why she’s single,” Brilliant Spinster Extraordinaire

    1. Dean James says:

      People really think the stereotypes are real – and that’s why they get upset, the pictures obviously hit the knee-jerk/propaganda button. ‘The Crazy, “I can see why she’s single,” Brilliant Spinster Extraordinaire’ – priceless hahahahaha!

    2. Bepp says:

      Standing ovations to the intelligence, class, style and wit you pulled this whole thing off with!

  10. Maja Bieler says:

    I think this is great!!! Good for you, Suzanne :D Lots of humour and good statement. Made my day (eh..rather night, it’s quite late now) ((AND I agree with Lucero – lovely dresses!))

  11. Korin says:

    I love this. It’s visually interesting, and when she says she’s doing this art project to show people she has a right to choose how her life looks, I almost cheered! Very poignant piece of work. I feel, on another level, it shows how deceptive appearances can be. Plenty of people gave in to the pressure and had that house and spouse and 2.5 kids, but take all the pictures of it you want, that doesn’t make it a good life for them.

  12. Razaq Mzale says:

    Sorry, but whether it is art or not, if you are truly happy being single you would not go through such great lengths to prove it. I did, however, really enjoy your images. Awesome stuff.

    Btw, men are also pressurized to get married if they are single and childless for too long. Especially where I am from. You aren’t helping the feminist cause by always claiming to be the only victims of societal pressures. If anything, it makes women look weaker.

    1. Lola says:

      you can be happy and still make art that proves a point. why do we have to bring feminism into everything? I may not know the artists intention here but I’m sure it wasn’t to portray feminist women in a weak light.
      she’s an art director! remeber when it was impossible for a woman to do that job? I think exploring art and it’s capacity and being recognize for it is being a pretty damn strong feminist IMO

    2. Christina says:

      It is not he artist’s responsibility for her statement to be applicable across all cultures. In Western culture there is a long tradition of looking at single women of a certain age as sad – sinister and supernatural, even. Meanwhile, men who are otherwise happy and successful – but single – can be regarded as bachelors until a ripe old age.

      She is capable of being happy while also being critical, pointing out to people the flaws in their perceptions of her choices. Kudos to her for doing it in a fun, cheeky, non-threatening way. She never once makes any claim of being a “victim” of pressure. This is about how she has thrown off all of the bullshit and can therefore pick it apart from about of distance. This is about empowerment. She comes out looking much stronger than her weK-minded critics.

    3. Jessica says:

      We agree on the awesome images, but I’d have to disagree about her happiness: it’s possible to be perfectly happy being single and still take on this kind of quirky project to poke good-natured fun at everyone bothering you about it. It shows that she’s got a great sense of humour.

    4. Catrin says:

      But this doesn’t say ”See?? Look how happy I am!!” to me. It’s a more general message about the pressure that gets put on people to adhere to certain social norms. I’m also happy being single, but I’m still annoyed and frustrated by the fact that this kind of pressure, and negative assumptions about single people, exist.

  13. Lola says:

    only an art director would come up with this brilliant idea of making art out of the nagging of their families!
    the lighting, the composition, the makeup, hair and everything about this is suburb. reminds me of old coca cola ads!

    truly inspiring.

    to those that say she went of the rails, you are probably not an artist (with all due respect) and can’t comprehend what it means to really dive into your work. it’s ok for Joaquin pheonix to walk around pretending to be a mad man for his mockumentary but then we want to basically out her in the cat lady category. jeez

    PS – ironic that it’s mostly women who are saying she psycho

  14. Christina says:

    It is not the artist’s responsibility for her statement to be applicable across all cultures. In Western culture there is a long tradition of looking at single women of a certain age as sad – sinister and supernatural, even. Meanwhile, men who are otherwise happy and successful – but single – can be regarded as bachelors until a ripe old age.

    She is capable of being happy while also being critical, pointing out to people the flaws in their perceptions of her choices. Kudos to her for doing it in a fun, cheeky, non-threatening way. She never once makes any claim of being a “victim” of pressure. This is about how she has thrown off all of the bullshit and can therefore pick it apart from a distance. This is about empowerment. She comes out looking much stronger than her weak-minded critics.

  15. Naiad says:

    BRAVA! Staging, lighting, costumes, locations, CONCEPT! Now throw in the the director can also act, and the camera loves her. My jaw is on my desk. I’m not too troubled that this concept is far over the heads of Joe (and Betty) Sixpack, still it’s a little ironic that they idolize mere technicians on a show like Project Runway but can’t grasp when talents like those are taken to a higher level.

  16. Julianna says:

    This is a brilliant commentary on the “perfect” American family. They are wearing clothes from the 50′s/60′s, she is shown as the quintessential housewife doing chores, while the male mannequin is dressed as a working man, reading the paper. This isn’t lunacy (at least not more than any other artist dedicated to their craft.) The photos are projecting a message on what we think the family should be, and how such a family is unreal and “plastic.” Incredible!

    1. Julianna says:

      I would like to note that I am an advocate for the stay-at-home mom; they work as hard as anyone and deserve respect. But this is about the image of “perfection” and what is expected of those women (who looks that amazing while doing the dishes?!!) It’s genius.

  17. Noels says:

    I wouldn’t know good art if it punched me in the throat. All I know is I laughed my ass off through the trailer and fell in love with the Heintz family.

  18. Dave D says:

    Really spectacular staging. Her expressions are really priceless. Great work, Suzanne. You have the best plastic family anywhere.

  19. Michelle says:

    Has anyone noticed the reflection of the photographer in the cafe window? She may be “not married,” but, with 14 years of photos, I doubt she’s alone.

  20. Rachel says:

    I adore this. I also adore all the comments from the deranged people with a minimal grasp on Art and a dedication to a project. If only we all had so much stead to show a commitment to our work. The world would surely be a better place for it.

    1. Amy The Chocoholic says:

      + 20 internets for accurately using the word ‘stead’.One doesn’t often sere that word used appropriately.

    2. Kira says:

      “It’s art! You don’t understand!”

      The last, desperate cries from the ignorant and straw grasping hipsters.

      1. Brigtop says:

        Your insults seem to more desperately attempt to insult and disparage those that feel they have an understanding and appreciation of something you do not, unfortunately for us all.

      2. Hannah says:

        “This is pathetic! She just wants attention!” = The last, desperate cries from the ego-inflated (and obviously insecure that she doesn’t get the attention she so badly yearns for) troll who can’t stop arguing over the piece he/she supposedly believes isn’t worth the time to look at.

        It’s okay. We love you anyway.

  21. James Munroe says:

    Um, I’m not buying the 14 year part. She looks pretty much the same age in all pictures. What kind of proof do we have that she did this over the course of 14 years?

    1. Hannah says:

      Look at the crow’s feet on the husband’s face. They develop toward the last of the photographs.

    2. Martha says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. Could easily have been done in 14 days. I do love it though. Art is such a great way to tell the truth.

  22. Kaylie says:

    Good god these comments are just riddled with people completely missing the point and one even accusing her of fetishism!

    I absolutely love this whole project. Keep on keepin’ on.

    1. Dean James says:

      The fetishism one was shocking until I read the name had the word ‘patriot’ in it. I immediately thought of Ted Nugent, Fox News and Deutschland Uber Alles – and it all made sense then… ;)

  23. John Meeks says:

    It appears that Suzanne Heintz has provoked an array of feelings with her artwork. To that, I would say, “Mission Accomplished.” Along with the comments that range from supportive to derisive comes a look into our actual attitudes about women who, through choice or circumstance, are unmarried. I have never married and I have never had children and I can understand the frustration that comes with the assumption that we can only be fulfilled through making serious lifelong commitments when indeed we can be happy on our own if that is our choice. Our modern society does not take marriage or parenthood very seriously if we continue to look at the two as status symbols to be attained. Does it matter if someone would make a good spouse or a good parent? Not if we have the chance to pry into someone’s personal life and ask about their family life as if it amounts to a hill of beans in the big picture. I wonder how many broken marriages and damaged childhoods could have been prevented if people took a serious look into why they were starting a family. We often choose the wrong person in our lives simply to avoid going home to an empty house. We often keep having children because we want to satisfy some internal desire to be happy. Instead of looking at Suzanne Heintz like she is some freak of nature, I choose to perceive her and her work to be an important part of an ongoing dialogue into how we perceive unmarried people. I with her all of the best in her work as she sends an important message about how we ‘complete’ ourselves when we are somehow ‘flawed’ or ‘incomplete’ without the house, the car and the 2.5 children…

    1. Dean James says:

      Unless you’re proposing to make a law about it, I don’t see the point of this comment. You’re not creative – big deal. At least the artist provided something to look at!

  24. Divine Grace says:

    This is brilliant and hilarious. It made me laugh AND think. I may not know art, but I know what I like, and I LIKE THIS!

    I’m not sure why there’s all of the negativity here except it’s really easy for a bunch of people to act like assholes with impunity behind the safety of their internet identities. I’m aware that every jerk with a smart phone, a black & white filter and an old tea cup thinks they’re a legitimate photographer nowadays, but this lady is the real deal.

  25. Mark says:

    I get the point of the piece, but this honestly just comes off as an unnecessarily cynical critique of a choice billions of people in the world have made.

    If you’re trying to normalize the lives of childless women, I don’t think making a mockery of those who HAVE made that choice is a very effective way of going about it. Especially one that implies the family is some fake set of commodities, plastic and superficial. Sure there are women out there who do parade their family as a prize, but those are women who misunderstand the true value of family as little as this artist does. And maybe that’s why she doesn’t want a family in the first place: a simple misunderstanding of the virtues of family.

    Sure it’s very taxing and people are allowed to put other parts of their life first, but to reduce family to an attractive photo album is just naive. And flaunting this work under the guise of women’s lib humor is what makes it look crazy. Everyone defending her is talking about “critical thinking”… ironically they’re only thinking one way themselves.

    1. Duncan says:

      “this honestly just comes off as an unnecessarily cynical critique of a choice billions of people in the world have made.”

      To you, maybe. I don’t think she’s commenting on other people’s choices at all. She’s commenting on people who can’t resist picking on her for *her* choice to remain single. Apparently that doesn’t bother you.

      1. Mark says:

        Are you kidding? She is precisely commenting on other people’s choices. The overwhelming impact of these pictures is “why would I want a husband and children? This is how fake you all look with your happy families.” Her goal was allegedly to ask why its not okay for women to be childless, but she did so by ridiculing mothers.

        I’m an artist myself so I’m plenty familiar with intent, execution, and impact. The only thing this piece really does is illustrate the the artist’s judgements and lack of self-perception when it comes to her work.

        1. Dean James says:

          No, it’s about everyone who tells her ‘the clock is ticking’ or asks ‘are you married yet?’ being stuck in the 1950s, hence the facial expressions, clothing…and as for ‘I’m an artist myself…’, ALL professionals put their credentials as a footnote at the bottom of the page. That’s because if you have to resort to telling everyone you’re the professional and therefore YOU know, you’re full of it. Go and make some art yourself if it bothers you that much.

        2. Dana W says:

          She is commenting on a society that has told her and told her time and again how “Wrong”he choice is. You cannot respect her decision so you slam her for it. Good job missing the point.

          The joke is, you are here to ALSO tell her how “wrong” her choice is. Congrats. People like you are the reason this exists.

          Did you actually READ the article?

          1. Brad says:

            So it’s a travesty for society to tell her how “wrong” her choice is, but it’s okay for you to tell people their interpretation of this work is wrong?

            Are there people in society that attach too much value to the appearance of a family, kids, etc? Of course, just like there are people who attach too much value to money, a nice car, successful career, etc. I would love it if the tone of this work said to me, “Do what makes you happy,” but it doesn’t.

            Like Mark, this work feels to me more like mockery and derision of those who have chosen the more “traditional” lifestyle. There are millions of people who have a real, loving, fulfilling family relationships that aren’t just for show or to avoid the questions of others.

            The execution of these photos is excellent – composition, staging, even the innocent bystanders are all well thought out. And I have no problem with poking fun at those who feel the need to unnecessarily impose their views on others. But maybe Suzanne should be a bit more careful not to lampoon a group of people who are otherwise like-minded.

        3. Ronja A-M says:

          Interesting that Mark would see it that way. I’m a married mother of two (and I bet our family looks awfully traditional on the surface, too) yet I don’t feel the least bit ridiculed or mocked by this art. In fact, I varied between giggling and evilly cackling while enjoying the photos.

          I see Ms Heinz mocking precisely what she says that she is mocking: the expectation that getting married and having at least one child somehow would magically transform a woman into a perfectly blissful creature forevermore (hint: I doesn’t). I also read this art as mocking the women (and men) who parade their families as a prize, and the societal pressures that pushed them into that life situation. In my opinion such mocking is an entirely necessary societal critique.

          So, Mark, did you also disapprove of the films “The Addams Family” (1991) and “The Addams Family Values” (1993)? They mock the traditional oh-so-happy-family ideal something awful, too…

  26. Becca says:

    As someone who gets asked this a lot, and who has never held particular regard for marriage and the ideals people attribute to it, I love this series of photos! Nice way to respond to all those who judge people that want to be single (or may not want to be, but have no problem being that).

  27. Eileen says:

    Mark: she’s not trying to make a point about women who have children – she’s making the point that having children and getting married is a choice every woman (actually, let’s just say every PERSON, because that’s the real truth) makes for themselves. When other people assume a person wants to get married and have children when they don’t have the current intention to do so, they’re basically saying someone’s quality of life is somehow inferior. If that person is happy single/in a relationship but unwed, why does it matter if they’re getting married? To do so without the right desire would produce a facade merely for other people’s benefit with no substance (hence the mannequins). I can’t believe so few people actually get this project.

    Plus she looks like she had a blast doing it! Way to go Suzanne!

  28. Kayla Grace says:

    Some of these pictures actually make me feel a little bit sad. Like the one where she’s kissing the fake mannekin girl goodnight? She may never know that feeling for real, and that made it feel a little poignant. Or that comfortable fun family picture with the sparklers in the backyard? She may never know that feeling either. Don’t get me wrong. I do NOT judge her or anyone else who makes the choice to remain single. I relish our personal choices. And I do think the project is kind of cool, but the effect on me I’m sure is not what she intended.

    1. Shane says:

      Kayla, I think you’re wrong. I believe she did intend to portray that emotion, as well. Not entirely, no. For those who bash her for her “cynical commentary:” there may very well be, but she is ALSO expressing the understanding that with hey choices she’s also giving up some beautiful, wonderful, heart wrenching things about life. Nothing is black & white. We all have good things we sacrifice to have something else. That doesn’t necessarily make letting go of those good things painless. I have chosen not to have a husband & kids. I’m 28 yrs old but I still feel a little heartache when I see my sisters happy with their children. But I also see the difficulties of that lifestyle & have settled for an option that’s more appropriate for me and my personality.

      She’s not just SIMPLY poking fun at family life. A bit, sure, but she’s also acknowledging the quiet moments of happiness she is sacrificing for a different path in life.

    2. Dean James says:

      She might not be single. And she seems pretty well adjusted, so your compassion is probably misplaced. I think she may even have friends, family, lovers…

    3. kathy says:

      What Shane said. I think that this woman knows that she can enjoy her life without a husband (I don’t recall anyone saying she didn’t have a significant other!) and that she can be the “crazy aunt” and let her nieces/nephews play with the sparklers in the backyard and give the kids back when they’re tantrum-ing or smelly! It is better that she does what she feels is right instead of going with the what-ifs and regretting it.

      That being said, she totally needs a dog mannequin. Oh! Or maybe a taxidermy one! That could be fun. She could pretend to play catch with it. LOL!

  29. Suzanne says:

    What a fantastic idea! I wish I had thought of it, although I have been married. It is highly amusing to me the pov of many people who cannot understand a fulfilled life without marriage and children. This woman is living large and doing it with a great sense of humor and fabulous art direction.

  30. Shane says:

    In the end though it’s about her being allowed to be herself and choose whatever path she wants. This may be the happiest answer for some women. For some, though, they enter into this lifestyle without question because it’s just what’s expected. And where she’s being cynical, she’s pointing out that looking happy on the outside & being married with kids is an idea of happiness that’s sold to us and shoved down our throats but doesbt fit everyone. Not even everyone who willingly enters into it. So there life becomes fake and all about the image to the others – fitting a plastic mold expectation.

  31. Justin says:

    Peoples comments on here make me hate the internet. She had a great idea and, I think, expressed it well. Obviously this wasn’t the only thing she did for fourteen years. I bet she has a regular day job and this side project just took her fourteen years to complete. If you can’t respect someones work or critique it in a positive way then don’t even open your mouth because you’re doing nothing to better the world or yourself in any way. What’s the point in being an ass hole?

    1. kathy says:

      I know, right? I’m so tired of cleaning Cheerios out of the couch. I thought I’d be done with that before my kid hit puberty. Nope. She still tosses them by the handful into her mouth and drops them all over the place. *sigh*

  32. Gary says:

    Guys, we all know that just because you are single doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. I bet she probably cheated on her man many times

  33. Spike Morden says:

    For many people this would be an improvement over the choices they made. For certain others it’s useful to have a decoy family to keep the real family safe from dangerous enemies. I can see this making a whole lot of sense.

  34. kt says:

    some of these comments are annoying, but i think some of them reflect that the art is doing what art is supposed to do: generate conversation.
    i also think the comments (some of them…others are just head-scratchers!) show that there are lots of ways of reading this work, and that proves its depth. i was amazed at some of the different notes she was able to strike with her plastic people. there are a couple that feel really over-the-top satirical and funny (the sled, the christmas tree), but some that hit a chord of intimacy, like the bathroom one or the cafe. the one that hit me the hardest was the sitting-on-the-couch pregnant scene…it feels like such a real, candid, revealing moment…i found myself projecting so much emotion onto the mannequin’s face, and actually caught myself making assumptions about his feelings/their relationship!

    to those of you who deny the pressure put on people who eschew the traditional family form, you’re just not paying attention or listening to people whose experience is different from yours. i don’t relate to the middle-class-straight-white-girl thing, but i know people who do and field questions EVERY five seconds about when they are going to get married and/or have kids. nobody has EVER asked me that because i am a very butchy looking queer woman, so people send me pretty much the opposite message–that i shouldn’t have a relationship or be a parent. i actually DO have step-children, and that confuses the shit out of people. it’s been assumed that i am their brother more often than anything else :-D. now that gay marriage is becoming more socially accepted/acceptable, some of us are getting the marriage pressure more–and i think that’s sad and marks a shift in the freedom of queer people to construct alternative family and community structures. i support anybody who wants to get married, and of course lots of people really need the legal protections that come with it, but as for me and my partner: we don’t need the state legislating our sex life.
    i’m kind of on a tangent here, but i think it’s related… what i connect to in these pictures is the sense of PERFORMATIVITY. like, marriage and family is supposed to LOOK a certain way and be deliberately PRESENTED to the world through a certain lens. some of these pics actually even cut through that and seem to reveal a deeper “truth” (like the pregnant couch shot i mentioned earlier), which is a cool kind of paradox i think. yet, even that “truth” of occasional dissatisfaction/emptiness fits the narrative of the nuclear family often represented in art/literature/on-screen. “yeah, we all feel a little empty, but isn’t it just so WORTH it in the end?!” i also like looking at this art in the context of the social-media-era, where we are all (well not all, but many of us) creating these online identities and exploring a new way to perform those identities publicly–often through pictures of our families. i think Suzanne Heintz is in some sense exploding that by giving us a similar presentation with plastic people. i like the sense of “well, look, i can perform a family too! and i’m in even more control!”
    one more thing: an aspect which i think allows this work to subvert the “when are you getting married????” narrative is the viewer’s consciousness of the only living, breathing, autonomous figure being the woman. one problem with the nuclear family, almost cartoonishly apparent in 50s representations particularly, is that a woman’s individuality and personality and life purpose is utterly smothered by her role as a wife and mother. THAT’S the identity that a ‘real’ woman can have (that’s what the when-are-you-getting-married question reinforces, and that’s why i personally don’t get that question, because i’m not seen as a “real” woman). but when we look at these pictures, we see a world that we KNOW to be deliberately chosen and constructed by the artist, who is a woman, and we are forced to see her in a way we are often PREVENTED from seeing women. so anyway, we are forced to see wife/motherhood as a ROLE and forced to acknowledge and consider the actual PERSON before us, because she is the ONLY person before us. and because we know she is the author of the scene.

    well, that got rambly! and i think the ideas of people authoring their own identities and women not always fulling being in control of that makes for an interesting contradiction, so there you are. welcome to my brain at 3am, haha! time for sleeping…

  35. Patrick says:

    I hope she next decides to move to the Midwest or South and spend the next 14 years taking pictures of herself and her ‘family’ at a bunch of mega churches.

  36. Paul says:

    Pf course it’s an Art project, why do most people think this is real ! I think it’s just great !

  37. Maria says:

    Just read all of the comments here. This is the prove that this IS art. The different point of views, the feelings aroused, love, hate, thankfullness, indignation, humour, confrontation and even agressiveness. For me, the art object is as important as the reaction it creates. As a psychologst, I particularly liked the one that says that people project their own stuff on stuff they don’t quiet understand…. Brilliant! I just love the irony and the estetics of the photos. I could make up stories for each one of them (with my own projected stuff…). And I love the internet because it alows me to know how other people see this. Thanks Suzanne, you are a real artist.

  38. Fran Leslie says:

    Hi,
    I love this.
    When asked in my late twenties, why I wasn’t married and having babies, I would say, ‘Yes, I could be on my first divorce by now!’ (But of course I was thinking, ‘None of your business but I haven’t met the right person yet.’) I worked in a Catholic school so there were lots of people who thought marriage and motherhood were the only goals a woman should have. Sadly, many of them realised they had made a mistake and were separated or divorced.

  39. Elle says:

    I love this!
    People are idiots who can’t see that crazy isn’t this art project, crazy is thinking it’s fine to pester women with questions about why they are living their life the way they are. I think some people would prefer if you just conform, to any cost, just so you don’t disturb their perception of the world. Even if it would be with the equivalent of a fake family.

    I also love the song in the start of the video, with the hand clapping. Please, somebody tell me what song it is, it’s driving me crazy! Pretty please!

  40. Mette Østervang says:

    Must say I love it! The art in it. Expressing joy of having a family :) To the critics, that blame her for waste of time because she spent 14 years to the projekt: its definite that she spent time on other things along with the projekt – how can you think otherwise. The span of years underlines the importans of the idea! I am impressed over the duration and stamina that she shows by keeping on taking pictures!

  41. Me and Wee says:

    What an amazing project and body of work! (see what I did there?) I’m so impressed at the dedication and attention to detail! The headline here clearly confused a lot of people, but I think the people Suzanne wants to target got the message. She is not making fun of family life; she is trying to show that anyone can make their life look so shiny and “perfect” in someone else’s eyes to be “acceptable.” and clearly when it is not authentic we can tell! Suzanne reminds me that everyone serves a purpose here and we must do our best to work with that, not against it.

  42. Virginia says:

    Brilliant, creepy, disturbing, whatever way this work is described, it’s an amazing body of work that can be responded to in so many ways as it forces a reaction from the viewer. I loved it. And the commentary here reminds me of why I hated writing papers in college, why critics and what they have to say don’t matter. Analyze away. Suzanne had a great idea and breathed life into it. Fantastic!

  43. carm says:

    Yeah, she’s so crazy. She only got to go on trips around the world while wearing awesome clothes, partaking in awesome photo shoots, and had no one preventing her from doing what she wanted. SUPER crazy.

  44. L Bear says:

    I think the project is interesting, but what the f with the comment about travelling with mute paraplegics? Travelling whilst non verbal or paraplegic is difficult only because of inaccessible transport and oppressive people like her who assume that travelling with disabled companions must be hellish for able bodied people.

  45. craig says:

    I really like this project and feel it has a lot to say about the way that people view that lives of other people based on the BS facade that they project to the rest of the world. The fact that the artist started this project so long ago is a statement of how far ahead of their time that they really are. With facebook being the norm today and the almost scripted/storybook persona that people try to pass as their real life on it. How other view this as being their “Real life” and say to them self aww they are so happy I wish I were that happy if only I could fit in like that. All the while none of it is real but just a persona that people are trying to project to the rest of the world as real. With TV and the media putting cookie cutter concepts of what is the norm or what happiness and fulfillment in life is. IE Insert cardboard cutout of Trophy Wife/husband, insert cardboard cutout of all american well behaved perfect child = success and happiness. I see it all the time People will post these “Norman Rockwell” style photos of themselves with captions like I love my perfect Husband. Then I think about how last time I saw you all you did was bitch about your husband and called him an Ahole??? But not on FB must perpetrate the fraud that all is perfect in the “Insert Name/ household”.

  46. DominoJ90 says:

    She kind of reminds me of those creepy guys on that Taboo show who live with those life sized realistic dolls.

  47. Cliff says:

    Suzanne, wonderful work! I don’t know what impresses me more–the concept, or the long-term dedication to the project. You’re a true artist.

  48. Jeremy says:

    It might sound wrong and archaic, but this actually looks exactly like the family life that I want (I do want a family of real people, mind you). And yes, it is attainable. I know plenty of well-functioning families where no one is angry and yelling all the time, everybody gets along, and they all still sit around the dinner table and are relaxed and happy just to be with each other. There’s nothing “artificial” about a functioning and happy nuclear family. As far as personal choices go, the nuclear family is part of mine. And I think that’s okay. And this woman chooses to do this kind of stuff. And that’s okay too.
    As for my judgment on the art, it’s really just an aesthetic piece. If she really is criticizing the nuclear family, then that’s all it means to me.

    1. kathy says:

      I don’t think she’s criticizing the nuclear family. I think she’s just showing people that she’s happy without that. Kind of like she could be doing these things with anyone. Put other people in place of the mannequins. A friend. A sibling and their child. Her parents. It’s making fun of the idea that she HAS to have a family to be a happy person.

      Someone else mentioned that he/she thought that the plastic look was the face families put on for other people and that they may not be as happy as they seem. I prefer my viewpoint, but that’s what art is for. You find your meaning and let it speak to you. :-D

  49. Nancy says:

    It may be art, but I wasn’t at all interested in her art project. Boring. I don’t know why it’s considered art anyway. It looks like a prank. So big what?? It reminds me of Yves Klein Blue Painting. One note, over, and over, and over again. And over. And an art project doesn’t have to take 14 years to prove it’s art. She could’ve accomplished the same thing in a MUCH shorter time.

    Does she have more than one art project?

    1. Hannah says:

      When someone refers to pieces as ‘art projects’, it tells me he/she knows little about art.

      Go to Michaels and look at some arts projects.

    2. Stephy says:

      “She could’ve accomplished the same thing in a MUCH shorter time.”

      How long is a piece of string?

      The creation of art is upto the artist and how they feel about whether their creation is finished or not. From ready-mades to classical sculptures, it’s up to the artist.

  50. Holly says:

    There’s nothing wrong with being single; but traveling the world with mannequins posing as your family is a little eccentric and downright creepy.

    This lady is on the road to be that crazy cat lady, just give it time.

  51. teabag says:

    This is profound. I was a mannequin little girl.

    The first thing that came to my mind is how society often obsesses over a woman’s marital status but no one *really* cares about how you are *really* doing in your marriage. My parents’ marriage was falling apart for 14 years but I could never understand why my mom had to upkeep this… front. Or an image that we all had it together like she was almost stricken with fear what other women would think of her failed marriage and she didn’t want anyone to know. It’s as though she was living under this weight of an expectation that being a woman requires her to always have it together, and marriage is a symbol of success almost that any signs of falling apart equates to failure of her gender identity. And yes she made us take family photos like that when we go on holidays – and it’s fascinating how I feel the photos we have displayed all over my childhood home (and now on her facebook) are no different from Suzanne’s art at all. I feel just like the mannequin little girl in these photos.

    Though I also feel a kind of reconciled and enlightened. Thank you, Suzanne.

  52. Andrea says:

    I love this!!! I find this absolutely hilarious! The quintessential 1950′s familial representation juxtaposes the mannequins well. It points out the intrusive absurdity of mainstream expectations being applied with a one size fits all approach while clarifying that perceptions are all relative.

    There are way too many thoughtless and negative quips in the comment section. People are going to interpret the piece differently and not agree but at least add some depth to why you dislike (or like) the piece because you come off as insecure, defensive, and dense. This is not a slight to heteronormative values or to your own choices (which you should feel secure and personally happy about), but rather arguing that the expectation that everyone must adhere to this requirement should not a means of verifying ones happiness or lifestyle and most importantly that it is rude to put that upon others (since that is what inspired the piece).

    To the wonderful Suzanne: It would be nice though if you didn’t compare a lifeless mannequin to a mute paraplegic since there are real people that are mute and/or paraplegic and that is rather dehumanizing. And that goes the same way with the terms “crazy” or “insane”. That detracted from the video clip and does alienate audience members.

    I really loved this though and you seem like a very fun, creative, and intelligent person to be around.

  53. Isel says:

    I’ve been going through some of the comments and it looks like some people are just completely missing the point. This was a long term project conducted over 14 years, it doesn’t mean she spent all that time doing solely this. She clearly has a job and it’s a well known fact that a job in advertising equates to minimum 14-hr days. She looks happy at what she does and she doesn’t look closed off to the possibility of meeting someone. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean we can belittle it or call it pathetic. It’s her art.

  54. cms says:

    Why is the length of the project such a bone of contention? If this was a series of paintings, or pottery, sculptures or prints, we’d all be praising her dedication to her craft. Just because photography is perceived as an “instant” art form doesn’t mean GOOD photography is.

  55. Marquetta says:

    I don’t have a problem with how long she did it. I don’t believe she was sitting around wasting her life with her “family.” I think she did just the opposite by living a full life hauling mannequins around. These photos are pretty awesome. And unless you’ve been single/unmarried for an extended period of time over the age of 30, you have no idea how truly obnoxious and insulting it is to be looked down upon by a society that assumes something must be wrong with you if you are unmarried. And God help you if you are unmarried and childless. People look at you like you must have the plague.

    1. Roz says:

      Next time a married person asks why you’re not married, ask them “Why should I be?” Then watch the look on their face. Puts the ball in their court to defend their question, not you. Amazing how most people can’t come up with a good answer. Try it. Works every time and you walk away laughing ;)

      1. Lisa says:

        That response works with those of us that are married but without children as well. And it’s much nicer that the answer I used to give, “Because I hate children.” I didn’t/don’t REALLY hate children, but that shut people up pretty quick so that’s why I said it. Your response is better. ;)

  56. doug says:

    To all the people who think she spent 14 years with the mannequin family–don’t take the article so literally. She worked on an art project over the course of 14 years. She’s an artist, it’s an art project. Most of the time she lived like a normal single personal, probably 99% of the time. She did art installations here and there over many years as a long term project. She hauled the mannequins to Paris, a good tax write off. Spent a day taking photos, and then shoved them back in a suitcase and lived up the single life for a few weeks, etc. The article was a little misleading, or was not meant to be taken so literally, but some commenters here seem to think she made some huge sacrifice literally living with a mannequin family to make some grand social statement. That’s not what I see, and common sense tells me it’s not like that. It’s just an art project.

  57. Bambi says:

    Title says it all “Single woman spends 14 years with mannequin family to prove a point”. Lol don’t ask why you’re single. And to the ppl who say that this kind of “project” would’ve have taken a lot of time and money….shut up. That’s just the point….why waste your time and money on this? Yes its art but 1-2 pictures would’ve been suffice. SMH Way to let your freak flag fly

  58. Yoshi says:

    I think this is a great piece. It’s just really about the right to be an adult, make your own choices, and express yourself in your own individual way. The artist has used her feelings and sense of humour to not only explore a concept, but also make a point about society’s expectations. I am a bit surprised there are so many people on this thread saying that its creepy and twisted. Much of art is motivated by strong feelings and emotions, and even (or maybe especially) popular culture has a dark side. It’s a very “high-school” style of thinking to label someone creepy or a freak for making confrontational art.

  59. Mike says:

    The dumbest part of all of this is realizing that she is setting up all this shit so that people see her as enjoying her life.. when all shes doing is wasting it with plastic.. not only is it insanely creepy, but its very very stupid and pointless in my opinion and in anyone who understands that life is not something to fake. No offense but kind of offense, get a life lady

  60. Tricia1021 says:

    This is wonderful as well as intelligent. For me, the thing that stands out the most, which I’m not sure if many people noticed, is how she portrays the actual events in the photos — trip to France, 4th of July, Xmas tree chopping, as well as day-to-day activities, etc… These experiences will still happen and they’re just as enjoyable and memorable with our without a husband or child being a part of it. I think the joke here is that she is happy doing all of these things independently and doesn’t need a husband or child to be happy and to live her life. She is appeasing those who can’t understand that concept by adding in the mannequins. Bravo.

  61. Rozie says:

    Ever notice that the people that ask why someone is not married are other married people? Could it be that she is mocking the traditional family, hence the 1950s portrayal of the traditional family? Possibly, but good for her if she is. Are you kidding me? Why should she get married and have kids — so she could get divorced and become a single mom (the new traditional family)? How ingenious to have the mannequins represent lifeless and soul-less beings, making their presence completely inconsequential to the event and life they are placed in. Looks like she’s doing just fine on her own. And it also looks like she knows it.

  62. Stephy says:

    I think the initial writing is misleading, I don’t think she’s trying to ‘prove a point’, especially not a point about her own personal life but of the female identity. The fact that it’s spanned over 14 years is not weird as sometimes art does that. It comes down to whether the artist is satisfied with their contribution, whether it’s several pieces that explore a theme or issue that spans over decades or one singular piece which is constantly work in progress which changes as the artist changes. Also, she can easily clock up 10 000 miles on one return trip to France from America and then back since, according to google, it’s approx 4300 miles one way.

    The photos are high quality and have a beautifully done mid-century, nuclear-family aesthetic that’s an obvious reference to the highly kitsch and staged family orientated advertising of the fifties. It’s a mix of the romance and idealism which is associated with family life, as well as the realities of married life. It personally resonates with me because I’m on that cusp of that stage of womanhood where people start asking why I’m not headed towards matrimony. At 27, I have friends who are getting married, planning families, etc and all the crazy cat lady/wealthy spinster jokes are now potentially depressing and trying to explain why I’m single is already starting to get incredibly draining. I know it’s only gonna get worse from here. Strangers and close friends alike, all mean well, I’m sure, but being “young and independent” slowly fizzles out to “old and alone”, especially for a women, and you realise, some things just haven’t changed. I know, that eventually, “I want to be single” won’t cut it. There’ll be inferences essentially rendering me either flawed (“but don’t you have a biological clock?”), damaged goods (“ohhh did a man hurt your feels?”), delusional (“you’re not getting any younger… y’know”) or selfish (“are you afraid of ruining your figure or something?”). I can’t just make my own mind, it seems.

  63. Vikki says:

    These comments are hilarious. She really has done a great job on this piece. All this discussion! All the confusion! This is what it’s all about people!!

  64. Yuri Teixeira says:

    Hummm.. I’m just not buying that “14 year” time lapse. So she had the time to be confonted with the annoying questioning, then come up with the project, take all the photos and make them public afterwards?… When was she fed up with the “aren’t you married yet?” thing and said to herself “that’s it, I’m done!” ? In her teen-age? Or early twenties?… ;-) Too soon, dear – hang in there just a little while… ;-) … I also wonder what she’s been telling to the people she met romantically during those 14 years, and how they dealt with the fact that she had a manequin husband and daughter in her house…. ;-) Ooh, so many life-changing possibilities which must have passed right by her: “Sorry, honey, I can’t fall in love right now, I’m the middle of a huge life project!..” ;-) Or the other part: “Ok, I accept your whole work, and I believe that your feelings for me are true, but..come on, it should have been ME with you on those photos in Paris or sunbathing in the park!!” ;-) ;-)

  65. Leun says:

    People have yet to understand how hard it’s trying to live your life the way you want to. If you are single the question that will always come out of nowhere is “so when are you getting married?” To point out what? Our society is so fucked up, people are getting married having kids and divorcing a few years latter meanwhile the kids are the ones who are suffering. Social networks are growing and people care most of pictures and showing up, how happy their family is bs? Yeah I like to take family pictures and pretend everything is ok in one picture…

    She proved her point and did a great job at it.

  66. estproph says:

    Christ, did someone crosspost this to The Blaze or Breitbart or Twitchy? Such stupud comment section full.

    1. alex says:

      Seriously the most clueless comment section I have seen since I installed the thing on Youtube that turns all those comments into “herp derp de derp.”

  67. Annie says:

    I this is brilliant! I admire anyone who takes the time to develop a project, especially for themselves. And 14 years…. that is a determined woman. A lot of people on this comment thread have taken it personally for some reason. They’re just photos, and they’re only commentary on how she feels about having a family for herself. It’s strange how so many people took offense. We are all different, and a family isn’t for everyone, just like college isn’t for everyone, just like…..

    1. Larfy MacGuillicuttles says:

      Calling this photo series any kind of high art, regardless of how long it took or didn’t–is a stretch to begin with. It’s a statement–yes. But a tired one, that was original and more poignant about thirty years ago. No woman I know under 50 thinks this is a statement of any relevance today. But then, Christianty-saturated areas of the country don’t turn out many original artists or progressive movements either. I guess it all depends on where you live. For example–I live in a progressive so. California town where people look at this tripe and say, “yeah, reminds me of those campy retro cheese fridge magnets with the snarky quips that used to be funny and then got so overplayed and, yeah…NEXT! Maybe in towns where this idea of everyone needs to get married and have children still exist (The Twilight Zone???), these praise commenting people should cash a fat reality check, “gtfo of Dodge”, as they say, and experience something original and explore some genuine creativity for once before its all said and done. Calling this art is comical. It’s an uninteresting idea that was worth about ten days to shoot, at best….reevaluate wtf she was wasting her time on, and get over it. Fourteen years of playing this same tired song is pretty indicative of a lack of art (or any) direction at all…NEXT!!!

      1. Maria says:

        Agreed… I can just see the snarky retro magnet captions “why yes, thank you, I am a bitch!”. But jokes aside… Its sweet that many are jumping to defend this lady’s creative efforts and she certainly has a right and it doesn’t make her crazy but once you put a statement out there it’s not free from critique and it takes on a life of its own.
        To preface this: I am educated on the philosophy of art.

        Any kind of “play” really does reveal a lot. A joke is always half serious. This artist explicitly chooses to present womanhood in a *specific* context of traditional family. To try and make a statement that family is not important to define one’s womanhood and then spend 14 years placing womanhood in the context of family…. its pretty conspicuous. I get that she is not crazy, that she didnt live breathe and shower with them but the amount of time spent on one *concept* without any deviation from, or maturation of the context, is still significant. Whatever color she chooses to paint this “family” in, is no matter. The amount of time, attention, and energy spent on this *one* theme implies a STRONG pull on the psyche and an unresolved need. If you are familiar with the idea of libido, a natural energetic pull within us, you will understand that it is the drive behind both art making and love desire! Are you familiar with how easy it is to transform a strong romantic pull into hate? You do not hate that which you are indifferent to. You hate the object that *denies* you love. Mockery/satire/whatever else is just a flavor of that. Those who critique her work can intuitively feel the denial inherent in the statement that she is “indifferent” to family and that she chooses to define her womanhood outside of that context!

        But why? I can only guess. She seems intelligent, driven, creative, and beautiful, so it must be a mental construct or perceived inadequacy, something impossible for the ego construct to admit, so it is projected onto this literally “plastic”, underdeveloped inner image of family. The girl mannequin holds a clue, perhaps? Her inner little girl, unfulfilled by a plastic, surface family bond?

  68. Michelle S in San Diego says:

    It is strange to me that people are getting so hung up on the 14 year thing. This is not the authors website. The “14 years, to make a point” is the way it was framed on this site to get “click bait.” It doesn’t mean her mannequins were regularly in her shower or at her table. It might just mean that on an art director salary, it takes a while to have the funds and time to get to her iconic destinations.

    I think this project is awesome! I love the pics. I don’t think she lived with the mannequins 24/7. I am unmarried myself, and the questions and assumptions made about my life get tiresome. Family is so central, and there is a degree of legitimacy and privilege in many circles to those who are wed.

    Like all good art, we interpret it through our lens of experience.

    Kudos to the artist, I love it!

  69. Rin says:

    It’s interesting how many people seem to think that this project has been her ENTIRE life for fourteen years. The headline is sensational and implies it, but headlines are -supposed- to be sensational. It’s a pretty awesome project, I think. I highly doubt that the entire fourteen years was spent focusing on this project. More like a few weeks or days each year, doing shoots for different seasons and settings.

    1. Larfy MacGuillicuttles says:

      I’m pretty sure this woman is one headless baby doll away from becoming another Lorena Bobbitt.

  70. Larfy MacGuillicuttles says:

    But then, I thought Lars And the Real Girl was a waste of my time too–though far more enjoyable than this epic fail. And the art direction was a hell of a lot more thought out.

  71. Shane says:

    When women entered the workforce, during WW2, they found some much needed freedoms and their “voice”. Notice all the art deco/clothing is 50’s where, the 1950’s male response to women entering the workforce was to put a squash on their new-found freedoms and a woman’s happiness was redefined to be AT HOME pleasing her family and making everything “perfect”.

    To me, she is an artist who is defining today’s woman : independent and not reliant on any man or family to define her happiness and life.

  72. Manny says:

    actually the correct way to look at this is by realizing that a mannequin is 1,000 times more desirable than a human

    i wish all 7 billion of us were mannequins

    then nobody would be around to call it creepy

    and nobody would be around to leave harsh judgmental replies to comments

    just reading over the humanity in these comments is depressing

  73. Sin says:

    I’m sorry, I could buy the “making a point” thing if it hadn’t gone on for 14 years. After that it isn’t art OR making a point anymore. It’s a borderline obsession.

  74. Sin says:

    From this excerpt on her website, you can tell this person really does not understand the point of having a family AT ALL, or children. Probably better that she did not have either:

    But really, what was I supposed to do? You can’t just go out and buy a family. Or can you? I did. They are mannequins. The candy coated shell with nothing inside. We do all those family things, all the while capturing those Kodak Moments. Because it’s not really about the journey, or a genuine human connection, when you’re kids are screaming, “are we there yet?” Is it? It’s about the picture in front of the sign. “Get back in the car, we got the picture. Now, let’s go eat.”

  75. Catrin says:

    God, these comments. ”Waaah someone has hobbies and interests I don’t personally share or understand! They must be shamed and pathologised!”

    For the last time, this woman was clearly NOT spending fourteen years of her life day in day out with mannequins. She was doing a photography project, which happened to span over a long time period, and which carried a social message. If you’re going to call people obsessive and mentally unstable just for that, I’d assume you’re willing to say the same about all writers, filmmakers, theatre directors, musicians, painters… essentially anyone who’s devoted a sizeable portion of their time and resources to producing a piece or pieces of art.

    Also, why go on and on and make multiple comments just to try and get across that you dislike this woman’s work? We get it. You don’t like it. You can always close the tab and go and look at something else, you know.

    1. Catrin says:

      Oh, and the reason it spanned over a long period was probably because she had other preoccupations in between. If she’d really had no life to speak of, she could probably have got the whole thing done in a year.

  76. Alice says:

    All you people who take these photos literally are morons.
    Whether you’re Married (with kids) or Single (&looking)
    Chances are- You are either, MARRIED-&-BORED / SINGLE-&-LONELY.
    Don’t kid yourself. She *OBVIOUSLY* has good people, loving family, & a photographer around her to take these photos. Who’s taken a photo of YOU lately (Selfies)? :P

  77. hbshell says:

    The photos are gorgeous – but some of the shadows are wrong. Like for example the Arc de Triomphe pic where her shadow is cast in a completely different direction to the manequins. That kind of shit bugs me terribly and makes me suspicious of the whole lot. Probably photoshopped to buggery

  78. Rick says:

    I’m with hbshell on the photoshop theory- the light looks very artificial on a lot of them as well. Not that I mind- I think the whole idea is great, & I certainly wouldn’t lug that lot around the world- it’d be just like travelling with a real family!

    However- reading some of the comments here, I do begin to have my doubts about Darwins theories, sometimes.

    1. Nancy Westervelt says:

      I haven’t read all the comments. I just come in and out, BUT she began her project because she couldn’t put up with people asking her why she was married. She must hate conversations. It’s not a rude or impolite question. At least the person who is asking the question is interested in her choices. So, she couldn’t stand the question.

      However, for fourteen years, she was probably asked, “Why are you carrying mannequins around,” “What are you trying to say?” etc., etc., etc. But obviously, she didn’t get tired of that question.

      But her answer to either opening questions, “Why aren’t you married?” or “Why are you posing with mannequins?” are going to lead her down the same path, her view on women having to marry. It’s going to come down to the same thing if she wants to explain the point of her project.

      You know, when I was a little girl, I wheeled my dolls around in a carriage with my friends throughout the neighborhood. No one thought it was art. When I was slightly older, I played with three other neighborhood girls, EVERY day in my garage from about second grade to sixth grade for the entire summer with our Barbie and Ken dolls and any other small plastic dolls we could use as their children. Every day they got up and my friends and I interacted with each other and used our own home lives to create stories. We didn’t know what to do with Ken. We always sent him to work, and if you looked at the front of my house, you’d see four Ken dolls sitting on the front stoop. Sometimes, we decided to take our Barbies on a picnic with their children and we’d eat lunch with them under the tree. We made stupid looking clothes for them to wear out of Kleenex. We took them to the beach and threw them into the water, and the big finale of each summer was Christmas. We’d spend the summer folding cardboard into boxes and wrapping them and then unwrapping them on the last day of summer before school began. NO ONE called it art. Be a long stretch of the mind, I couldn’t call it art. We were playing with dolls and we did it five years in a row, AND if you listened to our story lines, you’d know a lot about what was going on in each of our real lives, which is a LOT more than you can say with her STUPID piece of art.

      WHAT in the WORLD is so BRILLIANT about it? She gets stuck having to answer the same political question about women and marriage for fourteen years, and in those fourteen years, she’s asking to be asked that question which she hated to begin with. Fourteen years spent talking to a therapist about her problem having a conversation that she doesn’t like which she could again talk about over and over and over again while people she is maybe paying take pictures of her in her snowsuit, her bathing suit, her red dress, her pajamas would have been just as good a hobby as taking her mannequins out in the snow. LOL. She’s in snow tobaggan. LOL she’s in Paris. LOL. She’s giving her doll a goodnight kiss – I will NEVER EVER ask her again why she isn’t married again. She IS married. I would like to know why she married a mannequin though. Is that question not too bothersome?

      I’ve been taking pictures throughout my life of everything and anything and I’ve saved them. Lots of people do it. What’s the classic response made by a person when another would like to show them their photographs or even just the pictures of their baby. Usually, it’s a silent groan, and a smile plastered on their face for a few minutes, and if they are really nice, a few polite questions about who are they looking at. It’s a personal hobby which means something to me, not to anyone else, AND I would at least maybe have some interesting anecdotes or stories to tell with my pictures.

      What kind of interesting anecdotes would she have about her art project? I took this picture in front of the Arc de Triomphe because my husband really had his heart set on it to see it. Susie thought it was boring. The cameraman REALLY liked my red dress though and asked me out on a date.

      Interesting hobby? Fine. Whatever floats your boat. Art, only if you have a VERY broad definition of what art is, and at the very end. Nothing. The only people who could find this art project brilliant are those people who’ve had their head stuck under a rock all their lives, because she spent fourteen years discussing the man/woman relationship, an ancient conversation, and if she’s tired of talking about it, well, she should be, she spent fourteen years making it a REALLY big issue in her life.

      1. joans says:

        It IS RUDE, Nancy. People forcing their ideas about what they think you ought to be doing with your life is RUDE. It’s not a hobby, its an ART PROJECT. And your perceptions of what constitutes art are you business so I won’t nag you about that. Do your thing. But this speaks to so many people who are not ready or do not want families and have had to constantly answer to friends and peers why that is, and are rarely responded to with anything but judgment and blank stares, or worse yet, argument.

        And PS, just because you take pictures of everything doesn’t mean you’re doing anything close to art. Camera phones, everyone has them. Everyone likes to document their daily lives. That certainly doesn’t qualify as conceptual art. Go take an art appreciation class and don’t sleep through it. Maybe it’ll give you some perspective.

  79. Carl says:

    Art is meant to draw a reaction from its viewers. Certainly an artist’s work is a reflection of the artist’s frame of mind, but if your commentary only addresses your perceptions of the artist’s frame of mind then you can’t really understand the art. In fact, by focusing your attention only on your perceptions of the artist you are really criticizing yourself and your own frame of mind. Lack of awareness of this irony is comical.

    1. Nancy Westervelt says:

      EVERYTHING draws a reaction from its viewers. Neutrality is a reaction. Enjoyment is a reaction. Disgust is a reaction. It’s impossible not to have a reaction. Your mind would have to be a black hole if you didn’t have reactions to what was around you. Every reaction everyone has on anything says something about the person who has that reaction. Great, you’ve learned something about the viewer, and today, you’ve learned, only, that I don’t think her project has much value. The accusation that I’m comical because I lack awareness of the quality of her art is only an opinion, and a very flawed opinion at that. If we are going to allow accusations to fly, I think your comment shows that you are pretentious about art.

      The only thing that makes her pictures interesting to me is the conversations that people have about her pictures. Her pictures don’t explain her point of view which is why she supposedly started her project. She failed at that, and if you went into a gallery and saw her set of pictures of mannequins without knowing why the pictures were taken, you’d find her project abstruse. Exactly, how would you know what her point was? How? It should be viewed with a flyer explaining why she took pictures of herself with mannequins. I dearly doubt you would really understand her art project.

      However, you are so perceptive that you would understand the point of her pictures and walk out of the museum about how tiresome it must be for females that they are always asked why they aren’t married, and you’d be able to have this conversation with other art connoisseurs who found her artwork immediately accessible and not abstruse or imperceptible at all.

      I don’t think her pictures say what she wanted them to say, and they can’t stand by themselves without an explanation. What she elicits the most is wonderment about what is being said and why she posed with mannequins. The most artful thing about her pictures are the conversations that people have about them, and that doesn’t make her pictures art.

      Is everything art because we have reactions? Is that your definition of art? In my opinion, it’s such a loose and flabby definition of art, that the definition doesn’t mean anything. Anything and everything could be defined as art, such as the urinal posing as art in a modern art museum in France, or a big pile of poop in a New York museum. What’s there to understand art wise about a big pile of poop? You can discuss why it’s art and laugh yourself silly, and you could amuse yourself talking about how long it took to collect all that poop and was it all the artist’s beautiful poop, and you could have a very serious conversation about why a serious museum legitimized a pile of poop as art, and it would also be fun to listen in on other people’s conversations about the pile of poop. I dare say that at least some people would say it’s art, simply because it was in a museum and people came to see it, even though they really thought it was a big pile of poop.

      I’d really like to know why you think a urinal and a big pile of poop belong in an art museum. The philistines would like to know.

      Museums have littered their museums with these pieces of art. Would you be critical of them or are you so “perceptive” that you would understand why they were in museums? I’d like you to tell me why you consider these works as art. If you don’t think they are art, does that make you unaware of what art is? Does it make you a clown? Are you critical of your frame of mind that other people want to see a pile of poop and you don’t understand why? Do you have to like everything you see in the Louvre to consider yourself knowledgeable about art?

      Do you have any taste in art that you can call your own?

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  80. Yvonne says:

    Lots of great art projects are years in the making. She’s dedicated to her craft, and she’s extremely good at it. In addition, she has a successful career as an art director, and that attention to detail shows in her photos. It may have involved hard work but I think she’s had a great time making these images. Get a sense of humor people. These photos are meant to be funny and ironic. Let the naysayers scratch their heads in their confusion. They jut end up sounding angry and clueless.

  81. Dawn says:

    I think it’s great and funny. What’s the big deal? Yes it’s art, and she probably had a blast thinking up iconic imagery to create from. She may have had friends help her. I think some of you are making her point all the more–it’s to stop being so judgmental. Yes it’s an age old topic–most of art that is trying to “say something” is. I didn’t need captions to get it. It’s hilarious and I enjoyed it. I’d even put it on my wall. I think she’s made a point because some of you are so passionate about talking how you don’t like it or don’t get it. lol

  82. Bock says:

    Hard to believe so many people exist in this world who can’t grasp a simple idea.

    It’s a funny, ironic joke with artistic overtones. What’s not to like?

  83. Maybelle says:

    At least he stayed in shape over 14 years and didn’t get the normal “beer gut” most married men get. And he kept his hair. He is kind of sexy in the shower too.

  84. Kimmie B says:

    If she’s IN all the pictures, it stands to reason she was traveling with a real human being that was helping her take the photographs. In other words, she wasn’t really alone all those years.

  85. Jimmy V says:

    What’s up with so many uptight people? This woman is an artist and a brilliant one at that! I see the humor in her work and I absolutely love it! Give me more please!

  86. Jack says:

    Only 10000 miles? I did that and then some in the USA doing cross-country driving in a single summer. This woman has a lot more than 10000 miles under her … uh … belt.

  87. Kisha says:

    I love it! She’s my hero, I hope she publishes a book of the pictures. I will buy one for myself and for several family members. This is so great. Maybe you have to be over 30, never married and have no kids to truly appreciate this and get the humor in it. It’s fantastic.

  88. Mike jOhnson says:

    Wow..was it worth lugging those heavy things around for days just to be called crazy?

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