issue #70 Oct., 2004:
by Mat Gleason
Davis & Davis
Santa Monica Press
The husband and wife team deliver devious scenarios captured on film. Art that is clever without being smarmy is a rare thing in the art world. If they get much more famous though, I am going to have to start claiming I discovered them, as some of the images in this book were juried into a group show years ago by yours truly. This is the perfect present for someone whose conformist brain needs expanding, so reserve a case for the next family reunion.
Vol. 20 No. 5, Sept./Oct., 2004:
the good book: from annuals to manuals
by Denise & Scott Davis
Ever wonder what became of your favorite childhood kwepie doll? The poor thing is now being dragged off the stage of a baby beauty pageant, at least in the eyes of photographer team Davis & Davis in their book Childish Things. Find out what happened to the rest of your slew of toys, but be prepared for the worst. "Just as cherished toys recall the joys and warmth of a happy childhood," write the authors, "so lost and abandoned toys retain repressed memories of prepubescent traumas and the deep-seated guilt associated with the playing of forbidden games." Featuring such images as "Bungee Baby," in which a father runs to catch a baby falling out a window, "Bleach Baby," a disturbing image of a young girl with pasty lips standing next to an over turned teacup, and "Candy," where a lost doll turns to the adult entertainment industry in a desperate attempt to grow up. "While abandoned toys are rejected outright, lost toys represent something evicted from consciousness as in a Freudian slip," explain Davis & Davis of their intricate setups. These troubling photographs depict alarming scenarios that could only be brought on by unfortunate occurences, or at least vivid imaginations. The authors clarify further how the idea for this odd book came to them, and they decded to go for it: "As found in parking lots, on sidewalks or in thrift stores, these toys lack meaningful context and purpose - a situation we attempt to correct ... By this means, we hope to achieve for the former toy owners a measure of catharsis by proxy." The images in Childish Things ought to elicit some sort of emotional response from the reader, be it laughter or tears.
$19.95, softcover, 96 pages, Santa Monica Press (www.santamonicapress.com)
Babies fall from second story windows. An Eskimo child is attacked by a leaping orca. In the photo book, Childish Things, L.A. artists Davis & Davis place tiny figurines in bizarre settings unintended by the original toy makers. After perusing this book, we'll never look at our bendable little friends in quite the same way.
Vol. 4 Issue 2, 2004:
Davis & Davis
(Santa Monica Press)
standing on a chair lifts her skirt to a worm; When we saw this book hoisting that quintessential icon of childhood - the doll - we thought tea parties and dress up. Not exactly. Brought to us by husband and wife photographers Scott and Denise Davis, Childish Things is anything but and features fifty (sic) images of salvaged dolls and other abandoned playthings in unexpected settings: a girlie dolla spotted kewpie doll stares in a mirror, reflecting her button-candy backdrop. These visual stories cunningly explore the darker side of childhood while demystifying a few notions of innocence. And when you've got Pee Wee Herman singing your praises ... well it really doesn't get any more childish (and twisted) than that.
Curvatures: Top Ten: Reasons We Still Play With Toys
by Andy Wright
In their wickedly delightful new photographic compendium of discarded children's toys, Childish Things (Santa Monica Press), collaborators Davis and Davis (also known as Denise and Scott) envision a curious playground that reminds us that "Just as cherished toys recall the joys and warmth of a happy childhood," write the authors, "so lost and abandoned toys retain repressed memories of prepubescent traumas and the deep-seated guilt associated with the playing of forbidden games." Well, duh. You knew that, right? With an evocative mix of the malevolent and whimsical, D & D's carefully constructed, candy-colored photos (like Dottie here) place discarded dolls in unnerving and often sexual situaions, which will remind you of a time you peeked up your dolly's skirt only to be confronted with a depressingly desolate bump. Lesbians know that toys have always had split personalities, at once cute and creepy (and quite often subversibly queer).
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Sept. 11, 2004:
The Davises are a professional photographic team, as well as wife and husband, who live and work in Los Angeles. This collection of photos - lost dolls and toys, recovered by the photographers and posed in weirdly offbeat scenes - is a sort of paean to the darker moments of childhood.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004:
Childhood isn't what it used to be. In the arts, it's dark and complex
by Steven Winn
Husband-and-wife photographers Davis & Davis use generic dime-store dolls and props to create their woozily colored "Childish Things" images that run from impish to teasing to sinister. Baby dolls tumble from windows and plunge perilously off their high chairs. In one panel of "The Kissers" diptych, a young boy and girl shyly experiment; in the other, with both plastic hands demurely tucked in their plastic pockets, the two boys nuzzle while the girl looks on. A selection of the photographs were on view recently at the Heather Marx Gallery; the "Childish Things" book is published by Santa Monica Press.
#316 January 2005
Davis & Davis (Santa Monica Press)
Like toy torturer Sid Phillips in Toy Story, Davis & Davis create twisted tableaux from childrenŐs dolls that have either been lost and found or made their way into charity shops. The carefully lit, highly stylised photographs show babies falling from windows, mother dolls wrapped in cotton, astronauts untethered from their spaceships, and the Ralph family all taking turns to throw up in their pink-plastic toilet. Nice. It swerves from the deeply creepy and disturbed to the impossibly cutesy-pie. Just donŐt ever ask Davis & Davis to babysit. -JG
Issue 25, June, 2005
Davis & Davis - Childish Things (Santa Monica Press)
by Jonas Boel
When I was eleven, I lost my best friend. Billy was a dinosaur of the carnivorous kind, a centimeter or ten high and made of pink-red PVC. By mistake I left him behind on the terrace table of a French motorway restaurant and I never saw him again. As that summer vacation ended, I sometimes lay awake nights with visions of Billy at prey to all the dangers of French roadhouses: sunburn, aggressive wasps and noisy Dutchmen. The artist couple Davis & Davis use lost and abandoned toys to depict such mini-psychodramas. Their fiercely colored photographs reflect a grim, parallel world in which anonymous figurines (no Bob the builder or Plopsa gnome in view) are seen in a state of panic, despair or total disorientation. Little Muffy surrounded by dogs in the snow, Bendy Bunny in the midst of an anal experiment, little Piss Baby (leaving it to your imagination) or Ralph Dad who hangs puking above the toilet; these are scenes that we do not find in the Mattel catalog.