We first discovered this work after it was submitted to the Exposure Awards 2014. Although it was not chosen as a finalist by the jury, the editors of LensCulture were impressed and decided to publish this feature article about it. Enjoy!

In Plastic World, Mária Švarbová’s subjects pose as models. Characterized by stiff poses and a notably visible absence of emotion, these figures challenge the viewer to consider society’s ingrained roles. Each image weaves together another scene in the overall narrative. With the absence of emotion, Švarbová’s subjects appear to live life by simply going through the motions—emotionless and static in the roles they assume. Complex and dreamy, Plastic World presents an imaginary world complied from several of the artist’s photographic series.

The use of mannequins in certain images give the work a “meta” quality. What is the difference between the models and the mannequins? In “Factory,” the mannequins stand off to the side, unclothed and without hair, yet equally as stiff and emotionless as the models who assemble them. In “Discussion,” one model holds the detached head of a mannequin, and considers it.

Over the course of 2014, Švarbová focused on elucidating the concept by shooting images in two different directions. First, she focused on creating images where her subjects displayed emotion through their facial expressions. Second, she attempted the opposite, creating images in which the subjects displayed a complete absence of emotion. These images became the series Plastic World.

—Lauren Sarazen