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Excerpted from The Babies by Polly Borland. Copyright ¬ 2001. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved
FROM THE INTRODUCTION BY SUSAN SONTAG: "The title is The Babies. More than one. A group. A fellowship, it appears. More than one such fellowship or band or coterie. A world.
A cunningly sequenced album of pictures inducts us into this world
The photographer has penetrated a space where a secret identity unfolds. An intimate, private space, whose banal activities-yowling, drooling, eating, sleeping, bathing, masturbating-here acquire the character of weird rituals, because they're being done by adult men dressed as, and carrying on like, babies
It's a long time that the camera has been bringing us news about zanies and pariahs, their miseries and their quirks. Showing us the banality of the non-normal. Making voyeurs out of us all.
But this is particularly gifted, authoritative, intelligent work. Borland's pictures seem very knowing, compassionate; and too close, too familiar, to suggest common or mere curiosity.
Here-says the book-is a specimen of behavior that has a legitimate claim on our interest and attention. The pictures register a truth about human nature which seems almost too obvious to spell out
but which has never received so keen, so direct a depiction." -Excerpted from "Borland's Babies," by Susan Sontag in The Babies: Photographs by Polly Borland
As perversions go, infantilism is little known, and even less understood. Imagine fully grown men wanting to revive their earliest days--dressed in diapers, dipped in baths, and "fed" from breasts--as a means to sexual stimulation or familial comfort. Now imagine trying to document this--yes, the thought that just popped into your head is right--and you have an idea of the Herculean effort Borland went through to grapple with and understand people with this type of fetish. Portrait-photographer-by-trade Polly Borland compassionately explores this surreal world, artfully framing the inner lives of adult babies alongside their outer manifestations. Many of these men, who function in society as truck drivers, accountants, and teachers, suffered as children and were left obsessed with the warmth and care experienced by other infants and toddlers. So they dress up in adult-sized baby clothes, powder their own bottoms, and...do what babies do, all in an attempt to recreate that lost attachment. And sometimes to get aroused. Accompanying these Arbus-like photographs are interviews with the babies themselves. The book, expertly sequenced by famed editor Mark Holborn, begins like the sweetest of lullabies, seducing us into a sense of lovely baby life... until about page 12.