Anna Karenina Survives The Train

2010

This doll is based on the novel Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. The story is about a woman who rebels against the gender inequalities and conservative social conventions of Victorian Russian society, paying the ultimate price for her transgression. I tried to re-imagine Anna’s tragic love story with an alternate ending, one where she survives her suicide attempt after jumping under the train. My Anna sustains severe and disfiguring injuries, yet lives. I wondered whether a near death experience would strengthen Anna and Alexey’s romance, or if her permanent disability would add yet another obstacle to their already difficult situation.

Amongst a myriad of deeply philosophical and socio-economic issues, the biggest question raised by this novel is whether romantic love can truly survive despite restrictive social attitudes, or if it is bound to crumble under the immense strain of reality. The hopelessness of the novel forces one to conclude that it cannot, and that love is not universal but only circumstantial and very dependent upon cultural context.

Materials:

Full body tattoo made with a combination of needle engraving and china paint directly on porcelain, intricately braided magnetic mohair wig with a Spanish comb, industrial steel springs, china paint, leather. 13.5” (34.5cm) tall.

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