Ich bin ein Elastoliner

2 October 2019

Over the past several weeks I have been experimenting with a project I have titled “Ich bin ein Elastoliner”. I am using small (1:48 scale) vintage German toy warriors to create tiny tableau- some funny, some irreverent. The warriors were made by a now defunct company, Hausser out of a patented plastic material deemed “Elastoline”. The title plays on President Kennedy’s famous speech in Berlin where he proclaimed in German “Ich bin ein Berliner”. While Kennedy meant to say that he was also a citizen of Berlin at heart, he actually said “I am a jelly-filled donut”. My work with these toy soldiers explores the idea of using a toy in a way which it was not intended.

Among the hundred or so detailed and beautifully painted figures, there are three women: A queen, a princess and a milkmaid. To me, the situation provides an opportunity to explore the juxtaposition of power between the male and female figures. The consistency of aggressive posturing of the warriors also provides an opportunity to play on incongruity- of size, of modern vs period figurines and of the roles of men and women.

I have enjoyed solving the problems of working with small-scale figurines. I don’t have any professional studio-lights, and am working with a single flashlight for spot-lighting. Backdrops are created using a three-sided box made of scraps of wall-board and I use colored gels to line the walls and floor. Each photo shoot takes a few hours including set-up.

I have had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas and playing them out. I like some of the results, but struggle with the straight-forward nature of the picture. The photos lack depth and are too literal. I am considering how to add depth and interest to this work and have started to experiment with alternative processes. More on that in my contextual research post.