I have known and been friends with Melinda Isachsen for about 7 years now. Melinda and her husband Jan join up with me and several other friends each year in Venice, Italy during the Carnivale to photograph the performers in the Mask Festival. One of Melinda’s many photographic projects is photographing dolls in flea markets throughout the world but mostly in Europe where she and Jan travel extensively because of Melinda’s work.
I ask Melinda to tell me about her flea market dolls project. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:
It all started when I was at a flea market about three years ago and saw a doll’s leg sticking out of the hole of a banana box. It made me smile and I took a picture. Subsequent visits to the flea market in search of dolls became frequent. Everywhere I went – Paris, Rome, Berlin – I found myself searching the markets for dolls to photograph.
My doll images have slowly progressed from that first light and whimsical photo to much darker tones. Earlier, I took a picture of any doll I found. But today, if a doll is pretty I hardly take notice. I am looking for the worn and broken ones, and am beginning to wonder if these wretched dolls are reflections of the frightening dreams I had as a child. By applying grungy backgrounds and cracked overlays during post processing, I bring to the surface the fear and turmoil inside. Do the darkness and cracks represent my childhood nightmares? Though evocative of the past, some of the dolls have a haunting presence.
By Jim McKinniss