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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Mute welcome, Seligman, Arizona, 2006
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Mute welcome, Seligman, Arizona, 2006

Seligman's biker's shop is a popular gathering place. Perhaps it's because the clientele enjoys bantering with this hostess who sits just outside the shop, never moving her lips in return. (The chipped nose and stylized teeth give her away.) This image is a good example of incongruity that confounds our expectations. Her appearance is startling, so natural, and yet also quite dead. Our imaginations can take it from there.

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Phil Douglis06-May-2018 21:14
I made this photograph at the very same Seligman, Arizona, shop where I made the image of the pair of mannequins in strange dresses that you have already commented upon. I, too, was taken by this mannequin's classic beauty, paired with its incongruously damaged face. It's expression is indeed somewhat unique for a mannequin. Ir looks as if it is surprised, curious, perhaps even amazed. There is an expression of life within it that we don't usually find in mannequins. However, as you note, this mannequin can also be seen as a mixture of life and death, much as all human beings are. (The great French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that we begin to die as soon as we are born.) However, this mannequin will never die because it was never born. It has been created as fodder for our imaginations, and as such, I found it fascinating, and my closeup vantage point uses abstraction to limit the amount I show and to leave as much room as I can for the viewer's imagination to enter the image and make of it whatever they may wish.
Merri 06-May-2018 08:15
My favorite Uncanny Valley photo thus far! Representative of the 'mortality salience' mechanism, I think. She is so beautiful (I've never seen a mannequin quite like her) yet she has dead eyes and a bit of "decay" on her nose. Yes, I want her to be real, but I'm reminded of my own mortality because she appears to have died before she had the chance to live.
Phil Douglis21-Jul-2007 19:05
Thanks, Barbara, for your kind comment. As I noted on your own image at, there is always tension in uncertainty, and the women in both this image and your own are ambiguously presented in terms of their vitality. A close study of my image shows a chip on the nose, which tells us she is not real. Yett she comes so close to reality, we want her to be real. Your own image remains tantalizingly ambiguous -- is she real or is she not? You leave it to your viewers to decide.
Barbara Heide20-Jul-2007 23:14
Phil Douglis28-Jul-2006 23:39
The tension between the fact that she not alive yet she appears alive in my image, creates an incongruity, Kuan. I like your reference to"silence" That is why I called the image "mute welcome."
Guest 28-Jul-2006 11:50
"Death"?!! What I see here is that you have created a magical world. You bring her alive in this two dimensional surface. Through the lighting reflected on her face, through the vivid colors of the background and the gaze, that all implies magical power.
Maybe it is the “silence” in the image stimulate my imagination
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