“Surrogate. A Love Ideal” is guaranteed to get people talking. 

By Siobhan Reid
Updated: February 22, 2019
Immagine della mostra/Exhibition view of“Surrogati. Un amore ideale” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, 2019 Foto/PhotoMattia Balsamini / Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Milan's Prada Foundation has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative art institutions in the world. Its sprawling new campus in the city's lively Porta Romana neighborhood boasts Rem Koolhaas-designed exhibition spaces, gold-leafed exteriors, and whimsical dining destinations (a midcentury-Italian café dreamt up by Wes Anderson, anyone?). 

But what makes the foundation truly noteworthy its vast collection of 20th and 21st century Italian art — and culturally resonant exhibition programming.

Starting Thursday, the institution will show one of its most provocative exhibitions yet, with the opening of “Surrogate. A Love Ideal” at the Fondazione Prada’s Osservatorio space in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Courtesy of Jamie Diamond

The show, a photographic exploration of the unconventional relationship between real people and their human dolls, comprises 42 photographs by American artists Jamie Diamond and Elena Dorfman. In “Forever Mothers” and “Nine Months of Reborning,” Diamond documents the life of an art-making community of female artists known as the “Reborners,” who make, collect, and interact with baby dolls. Meanwhile, Dorfman’s photographic series, “Still Lovers,” looks at the domestic lives of men and women who keep sex-doll companions.

And while this exhibition feels especially relevant at this historical moment, as we map out the potential and limitations of artificial intelligence, both artists have been interested in this subject for more than a decade — and in Dorfman’s case, two.

“I started this work in 1999,” the Los Angeles-based artist told Travel + Leisure. “But I think the topics around the surrogate — especially love and technology — are very much in the discourse today.”

“Surrogate. A Love Ideal” runs through July 22.

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