Sunday, February 26, 2012

dollhouse


I have been posting lots of pictures of the dollhouse on flickr, where Suzanne Stein recently asked a question. Here it is, with my answer.


  1. I'm really into this dollhouse, Nada. What is the magic?
  2.  
    I've been trying to think that question through for a while, Suzanne. For me, I feel like there's a lot going on in this. I don't want to call it a "project" even though it is, because I need for it to be low stakes - something outside of any kind of self-conscious "art frame," even though it is not, entirely. Lately, with the season, I have been feeling so contracted. I don't want to do much of anything. I've been turning down invitations. I don't want to go to readings or parties. I have hardly wanted to write. All I want to do is play with my dollhouse. I understand that that is almost stereotypically 'eccentric' - I won't go so far as to say 'crazy' - but it's as if this is a place I can put my attention that is far away from the problems of Other People, The World, Literature, the Meaning of Existence. It's a kind of refuge. 

    It's a space to live in, too. I've been living in my apartment since the charmed year of 2001. This was the nest I set up for me and Gary. When he left, it became a kind of dollhouse - a totally femme space. I painted the bathroom pink. I took over all the closets. But still, it's haunted. I see him in corners sometimes, or hallucinate his stuff in what used to be his closet. I needed a space that he hadn't inhabited. Perhaps that's one thing. So there's a kind of magic in creating this little house that is really only for me and my cats.

    It's also a space that I can manipulate in ways I can't easily manipulate in my real apartment. The other day I bought an organ, a tiny detailed old-fashioned organ, to put in the dining-room study of the tiny house. You can see also the accordion and violin. This is a way of bringing a musicality into my life that I always thought, when I was young, would be there, but actually isn't. In my real apartment I have two little middle eastern drums, a harmonica, and an ocarina. That's it. And none of them ever really get played. More and more I want to make the dollhouse into a kind of ideal environment for living. This room is the studio! She sews, she embroiders, she paints, she makes up songs...

    At first I thought that I wanted to make it sort of Joseph Cornell-y and play with scale and odd materials and absurd juxtapositions. You can see that a little with the animals in the dining room (they feel very "Alice," to me, actually - and that would, for better or worse, be the book around which I seem to have molded my world view) but more and more I am making it the sort of place that I would want to live, instead. Still, I see it as something that can constantly evolve.

    The magic, I'm sure, is simply the tininess. Since childhood I have been in love with miniatures. The little doll I made in this photo is testament to that. Years in Japan of course grew the love.

    Just after Gary and I got married at City Hall, we went to Film Forum to see Godzilla. I blogged about it:

    I didn't think the effects were cheesy at all. I didn't take them as an attempt towards a simulacrum of reality. I saw in them a worship of the miniature

    and they were infused with the sadness of the destruction of the miniature. (After all, the Lilliputian scale models through which the guy in the rubber suit playing Godzilla tromped had been clearly lovingly assembled by some sort of fanatical team of hobbyists.)

    Japan is all about "the miniature." Smallness of scale a necessity for survival in cramped quarters. Keeping order and sanity through the elevation and cultivation of tininess. Godzilla is the reluctant (and pathetic) destroyer, awakened against his will by the machinations of The Large. The Axis of Large, if you will.

    I suppose I wanted to talk about this. I am going to export this comment over to Ululations. Thank you, Suzanne!


    these colors came out a bit strange in the photo... actually the velvet cushions are a greener turquoise, not quite so clashy
    She hasn't arrived yet, but she will be "me," for obvious reasons.
    This color scheme will change, too, especially once my doll-avatar arrives and I will need to make clothes for her. I don't like all this blue. I love the tiny zabuton, though.  Please note:  the tiny hangers on the knob of the armoire. The copper envelope on the little table is a real Valentine. <3

    the wallpaper will change, I'll get a bigger rug... there will be an organ, a plant altar, and a bookshelf in this room soon

    making little things... for now the elephants are enjoying them...

2 comments:

et said...

I am so with you in the love of miniatures, Nada. Beautiful house and post, thank you for sharing!!!! Elizabeth PS A poetry blog my kids will actually want to look at!

et said...

I'm back because I thought you might appreciate this quote from The Complete Dollhouse Building Book (1982):

"Women & children aren't the only miniature enthusiasts. Sometimes men have miniature fantasies to express."