Laurie Simmons

Walking Camera II (Jimmy the Camera)

Not on view



Gelatin silver print

Overall: 82 13/16 × 47 1/2in. (210.3 × 120.7 cm) Frame: 88 13/16 × 53 9/16in. (225.6 × 136.1 cm)

Accession number

Ed. 5

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee

Rights and reproductions
© 1987 Laurie Simmons


Walking Camera II (Jimmy the Camera) belongs to a series of images in which Laurie Simmons anthropomorphizes ordinary objects—including a purse, an hourglass, and a gun—by appending them to human legs. She stages and photographs her hybrids in black-and-white tableaux that explore the ambiguities of the animate and inanimate through distortions of context and scale. To make this work, Simmons borrowed an oversize prop from the 1978 movieThe Wiz and had her friend and mentor Jimmy De Sana model in dancing tights and ballet shoes. Characteristically humorous, the amalgam was prompted by the artist’s childhood memory of a television show that featured dancing cigarette boxes and matchboxes. “It always stayed with me,” she recalled, “as a kind of image of something that was so physical, without a brain, without a heart, without a mind—but maybe something just about joyousness and gleefulness and fun.” Simmons’s subject is the chimerical nature of mass media imagery, and the glare of bright studio lighting in Walking Camera II reflects a precious concoction of Hollywood-like artifice. Yet the camera’s congenial pose helps create the delightful balance of magic and fancy that marked the artist’s youthful recollection. Such images, Simmons suggests, may be an illusion, but they are also the stuff that dreams are made of.