Portraits of a Dollhouse

Dollhouses offer a safe and small stage within which to create narratives that somehow parallel and reveal much about a child’s life. In dollhouse play, a child can remain untroubled by the painful awareness of the direct or literal self-expression that might entail while representing scenarios that are wished for, despised or accurate representations of his or her life. Playing with the ready-made by adults, dolls and doll-houses reflects socially important images and senses of idealized adult life. A child’s toy becomes a mirror of an ideal of an adult, a result of adult interpretation of children’s dreams and wishes.

With this series of images titled Portraits of a Dollhouse, I set forth to conduct my own experiment by inviting persons of the ages 18-25, the years of leaving childhood and transitioning into adulthood, to stage their own dollhouse. Some recreated scenes from their own homes, choosing furniture that resembled their own, that they felt a relation to. Others felt as if they got to make up for the lack of play with a dollhouse as a child, creating fantastical situations. Some felt overwhelmed with the task of staging such a scene and approached this strange world of the dollhouse with caution. Through this process these individuals leave behind a piece of themselves whether deliberately done or not. They slowly revealed information about themselves, as a response to the selection of miniatures and their staging, as well as asking questions about myself that would not have been sparked otherwise in another situation. In every case however, the results that came from those at play where indeed portraits of themselves.