Still Lives: Eva

‘I’m not going to leave you.’

“So how much is it?”
“$10,000. She is expensive,” Brian, a representative of a silicon sex doll company in Japan, told me on the phone. “However, she’s not going to leave you behind or die. She’s going to stay there with you forever as she looks now.”

A month later, I received a giant box from a sweating FedEx deliveryman. I sat down in front of the box with a box cutter. My hands were trembling slightly as the cutter went along the taped line. I eventually opened the box. It was Monday afternoon, December 29th, 2014, the very first day I met her.
“Eva, your name is Eva.”

I began photographing dolls in 2008 to listen to their voices, and see their secret lives once again as I did in my childhood. And after a few years of inviting them into a photographic world I staged, I started asking myself, “Why do you really photograph dolls?”

It was loneliness. I know what people want, how to make them happy, and how to enjoy moments. I talk, drink, and sing with many people all the time. I am a happy person. However, I find myself home alone when I wake up in my bed. I always face emptiness when I come home from work or parties. I feel lonely in the crowd. I feel the loneliest in my biggest moments of happiness. This is because I now am afraid of what comes next. I believed in eternity when I was an innocent child. I had a faith that my family, friends, and love would go on forever and with me, as long as I did my best for them. However, people, moments, and memories I wanted to last forever have left, died, or disappeared, and I know the rest of them will do the same. Seeing them leave me does not get easier no matter how many times I experienced that in my life.

That loneliness is why I became interested in photographing dolls. I know human-like but inanimate objects are not going anywhere. But then I questioned myself again. ‘What if I create an artificial eternity? What if I give a doll a new birth with a new identity? What if I make the one stay with me forever in the fantasy world I construct?’

For the project titled, ‘Still Lives: Eva’ (named after two words, ‘forever’, and ‘Eve’, the very first female human being), Eva and I have an uncanny relationship that began the day she came of out a box. We sleep and wake up together. We go shopping, dining, driving, and even travel together just like ordinary people do in their lives. We laugh and cry, we feel happy and lonely. I do not know how this story goes, or if or how it will end. However, in this artificial eternity I constructed, I hope for myself and viewers who are struggling with different types of emotions everyday, that we can find more meaning by sharing stories of the solitary existence in our lives.

  • June Korea
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Student Project:
  • Seoul New York Photo Festival
    Silver Award
Artist Biography

June Korea, is a New York based visual artist who uses photography as a bridge to invite viewers to his constructed fantasies. As a visual artist and storyteller, his goal is to create his imagined narrative and translate it into the real world. His hope for his work is that it will serve as a catalyst that stimulates to remember what people have lost and what they once believed in.

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Artist Statement

All was hidden before I started seeing the world
‘I want to see what he wanted to see.’

I started taking pictures when I was 20. Prior to that, I was a nobody with nothing in mind for future. While studying at an engineering school, I met a guy who took pictures everyday with his aesthetics. Seeing him who was just a year older than me, I realized how worthless my life had been with no accomplishments; I could not have hated myself more. The next day I took an old camera and started taking pictures of everything that came within my sight. I knew nothing about photography, but by taking pictures I believed I could see what he saw with his camera. It was an incredible experience. I could see the beauty of a tiny flower by the road, the sorrow of a city standing by to be destroyed, and the happiness on people’s faces. These were all hidden, or simply not obvious, to me before. Photography began to change my life in positive ways. The energy I got from people admiring my work made everything possible. I wished to pursue further, but I could not simply drop the four years I spent at the engineering school. Still, I dreamed, and always dreamed.

I did not take photographs as a professional photographer, but I kept shooting every chance I got. I have always had my camera strapped onto my shoulder ready to capture the unexpected moments that touched my heart. I did not profit from doing photography, however, I tried to find what I could do with my camera for our society and our world. I believed it was my duty to give back the gratitude and enthusiasm people shared with me through my work. For that, I started working as a volunteer photographer at Make-A-Wish Foundation Korea for special children who suffer from critical illnesses such as leukemia and cancer. I wanted them to have dreams and help them overcome challenge, and remind them there is more to life than what they knew. In the past five years, I have learned to communicate with children and to share my gift with them through my photographs. It is a truly amazing experience knowing that the skill I developed could be used for our society. I started imagining again just how great it would be to use my photographs to make people happy and make their lives delightful. My passion towards photography has been getting bigger and stronger.

One day, I came across a photographer’s exhibition by the name of Karsh. With Bach’s music in the background, I stopped in front of a picture that captured a cellist’s back. For a while, my mind was empty. A few seconds passed and I found myself crying. I asked – why? Then I remembered a conversation I recently had with an art broker. He asked me, “June, do you know why people buy art? Most people think it is for investment but it is not. Rarely does a piece of art speak out to an individual, people are buying that.” I believe the picture spoke out to me, and I knew just the kind of art I wanted to make. I want to talk to people through my photographs and make them see what I see. Every nerve in my body was telling me what kind of journey I would have to take to achieve this goal. Finally I came to a determined conclusion to give up my former study at the engineering school, and embark on a new journey to United States to study photography. During the years of study, I developed a set of my own philosophies as an artist. I have always strived to bring life to my photographs according to three keywords: Youth, Dream, and Fantasy. I hope my photographs to be a catalyst that invites you to my own world; I want you to remember what you have lost in your beautiful memories. I want you to have a dream just like the way my friend changed my life, just like Karsh’s picture enlightened me to take my path. Yes, I want you to find what it means to see the world through photographs looking at my work. I believe that is the only way to repay you who have appreciated and supported my journey. Please remember my name. My name is June Korea, photographer, and dreamer.