Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design
Babies under the bed
Zsófia Zsuzsanna Buza
Media Design MA
Year of project
Dolls are eye-catching elements of modern material culture. In my dissertation, the main focus is on adult dolls, more precisely on the reborn dolls.
Reborn dolls are life-like newborns or infants made of silicone, the collection of which has built a global subculture over the years. This hobby also has a large following in Hungary, with several local doll-making masters. Due to the nature of this phenomenon, the boundaries between fiction and reality are often blurred, and collectors end up in a kind of mother role. The documentary provides an insight into the life of the Hungarian reborn baby community through 4 interviews, as well as into the potential internal and external conflicts of the participants. I have been following the life of the community for nearly three years, I have visited doll exhibitions, I have learned about the Hungarian makers and the raw materials, and I am an observer in the largest closed Facebook group of about 500 people, where above all the "parents" post their pictures, exchange clothes and share their experiences. As it is a relatively closed world, where it is difficult to enter due to general suspicion, I did not conduct the survey directly in the form of a questionnaire, but rather in the form of comments. My questions were answered by a relatively large number of people, with around fifty responses, and sometimes serious personal traumas were shared with me and the community. These formed the primary empirical material for my thesis and served as the inspiration for my masterwork. I was looking for characters for the film from the closed Facebook group, trying to find diverse characters. Due to the sensitivity of the topic, I had discussed the interview questions with psychologist Viktória Horváth, and she was the one who conducted the interviews; I myself was present as a cameraman.
In adulthood, we can talk about dolls more as a collecting passion or an art than a toy, but I have met a small community, who treats dolls like real babies. My hypothesis is that dolls can play different roles in a person’s life depending on their current life situation, personality, and traumas. I attempt to summarize how and for whom the reborn dolls were created. My research method is observation, personal interviews, and asking questions in social media sites. Reborn’s media coverage in Hungary tends to be negative, so neither creators nor owners are willing to share their views. As this is an interdisciplinary scientific field, in the future it would be useful to involve experts from several fields for more objective research and to develop measurable criteria.