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Steve Schapiro, Martin Luther King Jr. (with Flag), Selma March, 1965 © Steve Schapiro & Fahey/Klein Gallery
Steve Schapiro, Martin Luther King Jr. (with Flag), Selma March, 1965 © Steve Schapiro & Fahey/Klein Gallery

Sandra Hoyn who studied photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg has been working as a freelance photo-journalist on social environment and human rights issues for NGO’s and magazines in various countries in Europe, Africa and Asia,. It was from Northern Sumatra Indonesia that she brought back the story of the last Orangutans that won her third prize category Nature singles at World Press Photo 2015.

At Yangon Photo Festival she presents an unusual love story: “Jenny’s Soul” which  tells the relationship between a man (Dirk) and his silicone doll (Jenny). With the same sensitive touch as she had  in the Orangutan Conservation Center approaching a miserable male Orangutan found in a palm oil plantation with air gun metal pellets embedded in his body, Sandra Hoyn becomes an anthropologist exploring a new kind of human love, in the bedroom of a lonely lost soul  in an anonymous German city who has been living in secret for years with a silicone doll.

How the world has changed, we are now far from the inflatable dolls made in China! Sandra Hoyn found the subject of silicone dolls online, especially those made in France. As in this article of Paris-Match 30 October 2014 which describedthem as much more than simple sex toys, these silicone dolls are true masterpieces of technical sophistication, that fill the void in a lonely and loveless life, in which sex matters less than what one imagines. With perseverance Sandra found someone who accepted to be interviewed, Dirk (name changed) who has been living for four years with a doll he bought for 6,000 Euro. He called her Jenny. Their everyday life takes place in Dirk’s apartment, never outside. As Dirk keeps their life together secret, the neighbours are not aware, nor are his friends and family members. Dirk has been married before, he told Sandra: “with my ex-wives, I always had to fight for love, not with Jenny. With Jenny I found peace”. He would listen to her talk, he could hear her soul. Jenny weighs 50 kilo, to move her around Dirk uses a wheelchair. He would buy her beautiful clothes, sexy lingerie and wigs, and do her laundry every Sunday.

What is extraordinary is that Sandra’s reportage, in an exercise of pure objectivity of the German school, without any special effects or sentimentality, goes directly and deeply into the intimacy of this unusual couple. She would climb on bed with them and even into the bathtub when Dirk would shower Jenny: “It’s difficult to clean her  inside after we had sex, so I tried as much as possible to come outside”, said Dirk.

Of course the tragic lurks around: Jenny’s silicone skin starts decaying and peeling off, and Dirk would powder and massage her to keep her skin soft. He also worries about the future, when he gets older, and Jenny becomes heavier, what will he do? Will he buy a smaller doll to replace her?

The 7th Yangon Photo Festival
Institut Français de Birmanie
340, Pyay Road, Sanchaung Township
Yangon, Myanmar
Tel : + 95 (1) 536 900 / 537 122 / 535 428

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