Adventures of Lindsay the Love Doll, by conceptual artist Alessio Cap De Gottardi

Adventures of Lindsay the Love Doll, by conceptual artist Alessio Cap De Gottardi

CultureApril 12, 2018 By Lindsey Kline

Alessio Cap De Gottardi found Lindsay the Love Doll in a sex shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and felt a connection to her. She looked like a person, he thought, but felt like the embodiment of love. 

[The artist buys his love doll in Buenos Aires.]

Lindsay became the centerpiece of De Gottardi’s obsessive art project. Every day for a year, he poured love into Lindsay the Love Doll — dressing her, planning his day with her, and taking her on trips in search of adventures and new friends. 

De Gottardi and Lindsay traveled the world together. Their first stop: China, to find the factory where Lindsay was produced. De Gottardi tells us, “she was searching for home.”

From the day he discovered Lindsay, De Gottardi took her everywhere he went. He introduced her to all his friends. He commissioned one of those friends, a clothes designer, to create outfits specifically for her. 

[Heading to Chile from the subway station in Buenos Aires]

De Gottardi wanted to create an emotional connection with Lindsay, not a sexual one. “For me it was platonic, like a sister or a child,” he says. “I wanted to be the first to give real love to a love doll.”

To take Lindsay to China, De Gottardi arranged travel plans from Buenos Aires to Chile, where they could hop on a container ship that would take them to Shanghai. 

[Container ship en route to Shanghai]

“I organized a farewell party for Lindsay, and more people showed up to her party than my own farewell party,” De Gottardi says.

In Shanghai, De Gottardi and Lindsay soaked in the novelty of Chinese culture while searching for the factory where Lindsay was born. 

Unfortunately, Lindsay wasn’t always embraced by the locals. “It was almost impossible to inflate her,” De Gottardi says, “because people would react a lot, or the police would come to take her.”

At one point, De Gottardi left Lindsay unattended on the street for a few moments to use the restroom, and when he returned, she was gone. The cops had confiscated her. 

“They thought she was too vulgar, and that an object like that shouldn’t stay on the street,” De Gottardi says. Perhaps police worried she was a plastic prostitute.

[Enjoying cup noodles in Yiwu]

When De Gottardi got Lindsay back, they traveled nearly 200 miles south of Shanghai to a toy factory in Yiwu. “She found her home... but but I don’t know if she was satisfied,” De Gottardi says. 

Then, everything changed when Lindsay met someone. His name was Sony, and he was another inflatable doll, just like her. 

[Meeting brothers and sisters in Yiwu]

“Sony fell in love with Lindsay, but she wasn’t searching for that. Lindsay only thought of him as a friend,” De Gottardi says. “Through the photos, you can perceive that there were problems with Sony and Lindsay.”

Sony was jealous, De Gottardi insists, of his and Lindsay’s relationship. Eventually, De Gottardi would over-inflate Sony, and he would explode. 

“It wasn’t on purpose,” De Gottardi says, “but he'd gained an importance that he didn't deserve. It’s a sad story that he’s gone, but I never loved Sony like I love Lindsay."

From China, De Gottardi and Lindsay made one last stop to Japan, where Lindsay became an instant sensation. Rather than arresting her for alleged streetwalking, the Japanese treated her with respect. 

[Exploring Shanghai with Sony]

“The reaction is very different depending on whether she’s naked or has clothes on,” De Gottardi says. “But wherever I took her, she’d have clothes, because she’s just like a person.”

When she was handled with dignity, Lindsay was able to form beautiful friendships. “In Tokyo, people were really taking care of her,” De Gottardi says.

On Lindsay’s first birthday, De Gottardi organized a party for her. “More than 50 people came and brought her presents,” he says.

[Savoring Chinese cuisine in Beijing]

Everyone loved Lindsay — but one woman loathed her. She’d developed feelings for De Gottardi, and grew envious of the affection he showed Lindsay. 

De Gottardi was already in a long-distance relationship, he told his admirer, and was pouring all his love for his partner into Lindsay. The woman wanted to destroy the relationship, and destroy the doll that symbolized it. 

[Embracing friends in Tokyo]

But soon, there would be no more need for jealousy of his connection with Lindsay. After exactly one year, De Gottardi chose to end his and Lindsay’s journey. He calls it “a finite time frame in order to keep an obsession under control.”

Over the course of her long journey, Lindsay provoked emotions — offense, jealousy, kindness and happiness. She travelled, she danced, she posed, she hugged and she kissed. 

[Sony, Lindsay and De Gottardi back home in Buenos Aires]

“She never had her own emotions,” De Gottardi says, “but she gave people the chance to express theirs.”

In the end, Lindsay became an emblem of love itself. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t reciprocate his affection, because De Gottardi believes that if you love someone, you don’t need them love you back. “Loving her was beautiful,” he says, “even if she never knew.”