Doll in a Playhouse
Despite progress in recent decades in Western societies in what women are permitted to do, normative expectations continue to create boundaries for how women can and should be(have).
This reproduction of gender norms constituted in the repetitive performance of gender in accordance with such norms is the source of inspiration for Doll in a Playhouse (2023). Reviving the tradition of tableau photography, the series invites the viewer to complete narratives in which women are portrayed in intimate moments of solitude. The women turn away from us, leaving their characters unexplained. We are thus asked to make meaning from the situations with which we encounter them; to make dynamic connections between interior spaces and the possible characters of the women depicted.
Although the photographs seem to point backwards in time at first glance, looking more closely at the details will reveal that they are, in fact, situated in the present. This play with historicity is also expressed stylistically in that the photographs deliberately dialogue with paintings from earlier centuries, where women were portrayed as anonymous muses, yet are, in fact, carefully constructed from a female gaze: each photograph is the result of a performative act where I, in repetitively using my own body, make visible the process of performativity, thereby opening up for a re-signification of the compulsory repetition of gender’s norms.
“Our house has never been anything but a playroom. I have been your doll wife, just as at home I was Daddy’s doll child. And the children in turn have been my dolls. I thought it was fun when you came and played with me, just as they thought it was fun when I went and played with them. That’s been our marriage, Torvald.”
– Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House