November 29, 2012

Trashing the dollhouse


Readers imagine the world of a book, but some people go even farther — and no, I’m not talking about the Jane-ites.

Julia Callon, photographer, has a new project underway where she builds dioramas of rooms that feature in books such as The Yellow Wallpaper, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights, and then photographs them: first, intact, with all their tiny Victorian tea sets in place, and then, ravaged, scorched, cut up, and flooded by the red Jell-O of the psyches of their female protagonists gone amuck.

For instance, see her shots for George Eliot’s The Lifted Veil —before:

Nothing like a white sofa

And after:

For burning, that is.

And Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, before:

Watch that ship on the left.

And après le deluge:

Diorama magic.

More of Callon’s emotion-wracked rooms are viewable on her website, where she does not, alas, explain what a toasted white dollhouse sofa tastes like.

Her project offers many other satisfactions, of course, among them the idea of these great writers and Callon carefully building their small worlds and then just as carefully blowing them to pieces. And fixing the destruction in time, so that they can be re-experienced by anyone else who has, literally or metaphorically, ever wanted to burn the house down.


Sal Robinson is an editor at Melville House. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.