The Doll House series, Chromogenic prints, 20"X24", 2000
These color photographs are taken with a pinhole camera; a primitive, lensless method of producing photographic imagery. The pinhole camera distorts scale and focus. Nothing is truly sharp, but the apparent sharpness does not change from the front to the back of the picture space. The pictures are often darker around the edges, much like looking through a peephole in a wall or fence. In using this technique, I aim to remind the viewer of the voyeuristic aspects of “looking”.
The Doll House series was inspired by issues raised by Henrick Ibsen in his play of the same title. Nora, the lead character, is a proper Victorian housewife whose clandestine attempt to save her husband from public humiliation backfires. In feminist readings of the play, the dollhouse represents notions of traditional efforts to confine the activities and concerns of women to domestic affairs. In this series, I use the dollhouse as the proscenium for narrative scenes, both humorous and evocative, that reference the experiences and desires of many modern women.
A few years ago I became interested in toy figures as representations of our ideals as a society. The toy stores are filled with “action figures” - including a few female figures, in addition to the more traditional dolls. Dolls have always represented baby, child, and adult figures (usually female), but the new action figures seem to emphasize an expanded range of ideas about the human experience: superheros, super villains, and even super humanoids. Do these toys reflect changes in our ideas for ourselves? Do they perpetuate the ideals?
A secondary theme of The Doll House series is the use of figures and props of disproportionate scale which are used to invite viewers to ponder the relationship between size and power. The size of the rooms, the furniture, and the figures are purposefully out of scale, bringing to mind fears about being the “right” size, how body size affects perception, and feelings of power and powerlessness.