Valentina Sinis

6x6 Europe Talent: Valentina Sinis, Italy

Watching the growth of Valentina's work in rapid time has been inspiring. Both her work in China, and being one of the few looking at the post-ISIS world in a unique way convinces me that she will be a perfect addition to the 6x6 Global Talent Program” - Ron Haviv, photographer and 6x6 nominator, United States.

Valentina Sinis is an Italian photographer living and working in China. Her work gravitates toward the quirky and unusual. She is attracted to realities and people that normally don’t get coverage in the media. Her pictures have been published in several international newspapers and magazines. 


China’s latest population statistics reveal that, despite the implementation of the two-child policy, gender imbalance is a continuing social problem. There are 33.6 million more men than women, and among those born in the 1980s, the ratio of unmarried men to women indicates a severe gender imbalance. since 2018, the market for silicone dolls is large and manufacturers hope to make dolls lifelike enough to cure loneliness among the country's large unmarried population.

As China's economy rapidly diversifies, sexual subcultures are also diversifying. Among these, the diversification in the use of silicone sex dolls is apparent through the proliferation of DollMates groups on Chinese social media. In these groups, “mates” exchange photos of the dolls, tips on how to use them, how to wash them, dress them and care for them.

The DollMates market in China is segmented into three main groups: those who buy silicone dolls purely for sexual use, those who buy them because they want a life partner, and those who buy them to dress up and take pictures for use on social media. Silicone doll aficionados typically go through three emotional and physical stages. The first stage is the purchase of a doll for dedicated sexual use. The second stage is the development of emotional attachment towards their dolls. In the third stage, dolls lose all sexual associations as mates begin to think of themselves as collectors and become fully dedicated to their dolls.

Bob and Sakura, his favorite silicon doll, in a taxi on the way to a private house party in Dalian, China, on 28 April 2018. Bob came of age during the 80s in China. He says that for him, the dolls are not sexual objects but more like daughters or younger sisters whom he loves to spoil and adore. He buys clothes and perfumes for them and treats them with great care. Bob estimates that his relationship to the dolls comprises about 70% of his time.

WeiShuying and her mother enjoy spending time together with WeiShuying’s silicone dolls in Nanning, China, on 3 June 2018. WeiShuying is 17 and studies art. She owns four silicone dolls. In China, such dolls are produced principally to satisfy the sexual desires of male buyers. She is aware of the nature of her dolls but admits that she is not bothered by this. In her mind, they are simply beautiful female figures whose perfect bodies she admires. She loves to make them up, dress them and she considers them to be sisters with whom she can spend time while she is at home.

The variety of silicone dolls produced at the SANHUI factory in Nanning, China. SANHUI is a leading silicone sex doll manufacturer established in 2010. The company was founded by a couple who have worked in the toy business for over 20 years. The production of SANHUI is geared mostly toward foreign markets, in particular, the United States. SANHUI’s mission is to produce silicone dolls with the possibility of total customization. Options include jiggly implants, vagina pigmentation, nipple and areola pigmentation, customizable breast size, as well as any other preference the client might desire. Nanning, China, 16 May 2018.

L.S. (28) holds Lily, his favorite doll, at the beach in BeiHai, China, on 17 May 2018. L.S. began to be interested in silicone dolls after the end of a tormenting relationship with a girlfriend. L.S. recounts that the worst part of his relationship with his ex-girlfriend was the exhausting daily disputes that strongly traumatized him. L.S. says that the relationship he has established with his dolls has helped him to find serenity again. 

Millennials Baghdad

16 years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which promised better lives for Iraqis after three decades of dictatorship, the country suffers from widespread instability, poverty and political corruption. Nevertheless, Iraqi teenagers, constituting more than 70% of the Iraqi population, show a refusal to abandon their country. They do not want to give up hope and they want their country to be better. Among these young people, there are artists, emerging designers, intellectuals, photographers and influencers. Millennials Baghdad explores how they live and are rebuilding Iraq today.

Young girls enjoy chatting together whilst sitting under the statues of Shehrazad and Shehriar in Abu Nawas square, along the Tigris river in Baghdad, on 17 September 2018.

“What is different about us is that we are artists and we do crazy things, especially for some Iraqis. Mustafa has a Harley Davidson. In some areas in Iraq it is not allowed because you will get a lot of criticism. We came up with a solution. I dress up as a man so we can have fun and forget about people’s judgments.” Baghdad, Iraq, 25 September 2018.

“I want to create my music and show the rest of the world that Iraqi people are also into rock music. Some Iraqi people don’t understand the fact that a girl playing electric guitar and going to concerts is not doing anything wrong. I’m the only girl who plays electric guitar in all Baghdad.” Baghdad, Iraq, 26 September, 2018.

“I miss the lack of security and people minding their own businesses. I want to be an example for other girls because if they see me working hard and being successful, maybe they will do the same and not depend on anyone, especially not on a man like some parts of society actually want." Baghdad, Iraq, 17 September, 2018.

See 'DollMates' by Valentina Sinis on Witness

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