Why does this have baby dolls in it?
They're all the kinds of items you'd buy somewhere like a dollar store: very inexpensive, made very cheaply and in large quantities. I don't know whether the dolls have any particular significance...however, their meaning is entirely up for interpretation.
For an interesting comparison to this work, check out the African "power figures" in the 1st-floor African galleries. They are made of wood and are pierced with nails the way this work is pierced with metal rods.
I read the summary of this but I'm interested to hear more about the artist's relationship with the crown.
The artist was born in Britain but raised in Guyana and in these monumental portraits explores the British crown's relationship with colonialism. Guyana was a British colony from the 18th century, not gaining independence until 1966, and remains a part of the Commonwealth. This statement comes from the artist's website: "Locke has adopted, questioned and subverted the visual display of those in power and those who aspire to power. "
What does the name mean?
The title "Koh-i-noor" refers to a diamond that has been treasured since the 14th century in India.
And what this work refers to is the basically the colonization of India by the British, where the diamond and other "jewels" are then taken away from India. More abstractly the work also represents a portrait of Queen Elizabeth.
The artist created this portrait from hundreds of cheap and banal plastic toys, which in a sense points to the disposable quality of our new global economy, which in turn also highlights the tension between a contemporary society and its colonial past.