From sex dolls to dementia care therapy, dolls are increasingly used for companionship and comfort, and they have been shown to produce positive affective states that can be healing and enjoyable. In this lecture, multidisciplinary artist and scholar Emilie St-Hilaire explores a number of interactions between human-like dolls and human beings to reframe such synthetic relationships as a contemporary form of Pygmalionism.
Emilie St-Hilaire is a multidisciplinary artist and doctoral candidate in the humanities at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Her interdisciplinary research examines the sub-cultural phenomenon of reborn dolls (hyper-realistic baby dolls) from a feminist perspective. She has authored and co-authored writing in Canadian Art Review and the Journal International de Bioéthique. St-Hilaire has exhibited her artwork at Canadian and international galleries and festivals. Her work has been supported by the FRQSC (Fonds de recherche du Québec—Société et culture), Concordia University, Hexagram Network, Francofonds, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Freyja Hartzell
teaches the history of modern design, architecture, and art at Bard Graduate Center. Her first book, Richard Riemerschmid’s Extraordinary Living Things, appears with MIT Press this fall. She is currently working on a new book, Doll Parts: Designing Likeness, and a related exhibition on dolls and human likeness. Her primary research interests center around the roles that designed objects play in the dynamics of subject-object relations.