Art

June and the Real Girl: A Photographer Explains His ‘Relationship’ With a Sex Doll

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June Korea wasn’t too specific when ordering his anatomically correct doll. He chose the face of an Asian woman, and made her short — just four feet, three inches — but that’s about it.

“You can choose vagina size, the bust size,” he says. “It’s crazy what you can get in Japan.”

The Queens-based visual artist and recent School of Visual Arts graduate spent about $8,000 on the doll to combat his loneliness and to make it the subject of his recent photo series, Still Lives: Eva. 

Korea, 32, says the series is just the beginning of his relationship with Eva, which, to be clear, exists only in the photos.

“I’m not really spending my whole life with her,” Korea says. “I have my own life, my own friends, I go out sometimes; she’s in my fantasy world. That’s where I’m photographing.”

The nine photos make up Korea’s MFA thesis for SVA, but there’s more to come. “She looks beautiful in the pictures,” he tells the Voice. “But this is just the beginning of the relationship — they are going shopping and to the park. But it goes deeper, our relationship. There will be more photographs.”

Korea says he had the series of images mapped out in his mind before he ordered the doll from a company in Japan called Orient Industry. And then a friend introduced him to Lars and the Real Girl, the 2007 movie where Ryan Gosling plays a man who orders a RealDoll, names it Bianca, and has a relationship with it — as his family and the community slowly come to accept it. (Film critic Ella Taylor called it at the time a “smarmy little number.”

The images are captivating, a little haunting, and have just as much of Korea in them as they do Eva. 

Eva even has her own Instagram (@silicondreameva), and you can keep up with Korea’s work at junekorea.com. You can also see these images at his MFA National Exhibition show, July 23–August 14 at First Street Gallery (526 West 26th Street, Unit 209). The opening reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 23. 

Korea was kind enough to go through each one with us and explain them in his own words:

“It took two months to get her in my place because it’s handmade. They said they need more time to make her. I got her in my apartment and then I just found there was a defect on the body: Her arm was swollen. She’s eight grand, she’s expensive. I was pretty sad. I called the company and said, ‘I have to ship her back to repair.’ So I was running out of time for my project, but I had no choice. I thought that ‘Maybe I can make one scene,’ so this photo was ‘Goodbye for a while.’ ”

“The guy in the back is me. I just remembered I didn’t really like brushing my teeth when I was young. And she’s kind of a newborn baby. I just remember the story of my childhood and I applied that story to the picture. For the whole project I looked at myself and at the same time I looked at her.”

“Sometimes we argue and we smile and cry, every different emotion of our relationship. So I said, ‘We need to fight.’ I remember I had some argument outside a grocery store with my ex-girlfriend. I just applied that story to my picture. I have no idea [if my ex-girlfriend has seen this photo].”

“The background is a little creepy. Those dolls [represent] my friends and I am introducing her to my friends. This picture is an introduction of her to my little life.”

“When I come home from work or parties, there’s no one waiting for me in my place. I always wanted to have someone waiting for me when I come home from work. I started making a picture of that, but I found leaving her behind actually looks better than coming home.”

“The man walking by is looking at her, not me. This is the very first day that I showed her off to the public. Every previous picture was inside — there are no other people in the picture. This is at Bear Mountain State Park. I wanted to show she’s a living creature in our world, in New York.”

“This is from the same day. I love to play guitar to my actual friends and I just did the same thing for Eva in our relationship.”

“I just wanted to make a picture of her and myself having fun and being happy, so we can remember our lives when we get old. Her face is kind of a little sad in the picture, though. It is because I feel sadness in the biggest moments of happiness. I don’t know when it’s going to go away. Even when I’m having fun, I think, ‘This is going to be gone.’ I feel happy with her, but she thinks this relationship is going to be gone some day.”

[nlucchesi@villagevoice.com][@nicklucchesi]