An Ode to Spinsterhood: Suzanne Heintz's "Life Once Removed" Series

This is just the perfect series of photographs to share on Valentine's day.  Suzanne Heintz’s series, "Life Once Removed," was born of frustration; a frustration with the perception that as a single adult woman her time was continually running out and that she was somehow abnormal or missing out by not having a ring on her finger. As Heintz writes in her Artist’s Statement, her natural response to her mother’s suggestion that she “just PICK somebody” was, “It’s not like I can go out and BUY a family! I can’t just MAKE it happen!”  Yet, in a way, that’s exactly what she did.

Heintz began the project by using her own home as a backdrop, taking classic family portraits. Evolving over the following decade, the project expanded beyond home life to include Holiday Greetings: “as a satirical response to annual family photo cards.” Heintz says “the project took a turn after taking [the mannequins] on a road trip,” as this required her to work in public. The strangeness of a lone woman manipulating a family of mannequins and collections of props immediately disarmed those who passed by. Heintz sees this response as productive. “As soon as that happens, their mind is open and impressionable. Using humor, paired with shock, allows my message to penetrate, and the work can have greater impact. The aim is to get people to reconsider their stubborn allegiance to traditional life expectations.”

Heintz mentioned to me that her documentary about the project, entitled “Playing House”. Part One of the documentary will be released in March 2014. You can watch the trailer here.

Her Artist’s Statement discusses the expectations placed on the Modern Woman (whether by society, family and friends or, even, herself), Heintz points to “deeply ingrained mixed messages, from both previous and present generations”. When it comes to life, particularly women’s lives, “fulfilled” is the new “perfect”; “the path to fulfillment is not through one thing, it’s through all things; Education, Career, Home, Family, Accomplishment, Enlightenment.” The trouble with this is that “if any one of these things is left out, it’s often perceived that there’s something wrong with your life.”

Heintz says that her intention in creating "Life Once Removed" was to “get people to open up their minds, and quit clinging to outdated assumptions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other, and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it’s made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. Or Esq. attached to your name.”

2013 Paris Cafe Americain 2013 Holiday Valentines DIY DanceHeintz Wedding 2000  The Happiest Day2000  At Home  Clippers 2008  Christmas The Accident2013 Paris 6 Steps of Sacre Coeur 2009  Christmas  Joy To The World 2000 At Home Kiss Goodnight 2013 At Home Sleeping In 2013  At Home  Breakfast Heintz2013 At Home Laundromat2012 Christmas Lifted Spirits

Heintz describes her work as “equal parts photography and theater.” Focusing on photography and video, Heintz pulls from her diverse influences to create unique, compassionate and thought-provoking work. Growing up in New York exposed Heintz to “a multitude of cultural influences”, while the experience of growing up in the Mormon Church “made a lasting impression” on the artist, providing her “first experience in the idealization of family, and the glorification of the role of women as Mother and Homemaker.” More of Heintz’s work can be found on her website.

[Via PetaPixel ]

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Timothy Jace's picture

so cool!

Jesper Malmkvist's picture

Pure art! Reminds me of 'Mulholland Drive' by David Lynch.

Bob Bell's picture


Fraga123's picture

Which one is the mannikin?

Mark Power's picture

Hideous woman, you wasted your youth on badboys, and now we decent men don't want you.

Apollyon's picture

“first experience in the idealization of family, and the glorification of the role of women as Mother and Homemaker.”
Clearly this is a case of art revealing the artist's deepest desire.

Jackie newc's picture

Beautiful photos! Reminds me of the 60's 70's your family looks so depressed tho! They need to accept your individuality and give you more freedom. You appear happy with your life they know you can ditch them any time you choose! I heard Q with Jian Gomeshi. Love your work!!