playing house life once removed

Family to Go: If you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well make ‘em up. Such was the case with Suzanne Heintz, a Colorado-based art director who got fed up with the when-are-you-going-to-get-married question 14 years ago, and opted for a ready-made family of her own. Voila! Two mannequins — a husband she named “Chauncey” and a daughter she dubbed “Mary Margaret” — fit the bill, and one of the quirkier artistic endeavors I’ve run across was born.

Heintz’s photo series, Life Once Removed, which kind of evokes Cindy Sherman landing in Stepford territory, is still going strong: Chauncey and Suzanne “renewed” their wedding vows earlier this month (though with a twist) and their adventures have traversed the globe, as Heintz schleps the dolls along for photographs taken around the world. Theplaying house wedding whole point is to satirize images of what we’ve all come to view as “perfect lives” and women’s stereotypical roles within that framework, as well as documenting the everyday routines of familial relationships, fake or not.

Is this taking the pursuit of art a bit too far? Perhaps, but actually, some might be a little jealous. Chauncey’s not bad-looking (and he’ll never develop a paunch), and many parents would probably be delighted to have a kid who can’t talk back at them. (Of course, Mary Margaret won’t ever grow up and leave the nest, either.)

Somewhere, there’s an unreality show in the making.

(Photos: © Suzanne Heintz)