Holly Clarke’s Porcelain Poodles Present: A Doll’s House

By April 11, 2016Editorial, News

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I love being totally surprised by something I assumed had lost its mystery.

These photos are part of a piece my sister is showing at the UBC Grad Show opening this week. Having studied Theatre with a particular focus on Scandinavian Drama, I’ve come across Ibsen’s A Doll’s House too many times to count. I love the play, obviously it’s fantastic and moving and one of the most important works of Literature of the 19th C and I’d gladly read/watch/study/analyze/explore it weekly (okay maaaybe monthly). But sometimes it’s hard to find those wonderful, exciting surprises in something you (think you) know so well. For a theatre audience in the 21st C, before the curtain even comes up we know that Krogstad is going to blackmail Nora, we know she’s going to question the foundations of her marriage to Torvald, and that she is going to walk out that door at the end. We’re not going to be utterly flabbergasted at the end like all those Danes back in 1879.

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My sister has 88 porcelain poodles. They were given to her by our grandparents who collected them and kept them all around their house when we were kids. Don’t ask why, they just like poodles I guess. There was an especially large poodle posse in the kitchen right next to the dinner table. How domestic!

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Maybe I enjoy Holly’s exhibit because it ties artifacts from my own personal childhood to a world-renowned, time-tested, seminal literary work. Or maybe I just like dogs and pineapple wallpaper. But what I know I really love is that she surprised me. When I look at these I see something I’ve examined from so many angles I thought I had exhausted it, but here it is in a way I never would have dreamed. It’s humbling, it’s illuminating, it’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s interpretive, it’s art.

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Thanks for the surprise, sis!

MC

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