Richard Hawkins Altered Dollhouses

The Last House, 2010 by Richard Hawkins

I like any art that forces me to tap into my inner voyeur.

The entirety of the Richard Hawkins show on now at The Art Institute of Chicago was an amazing way to spend a cool afternoon with my best friend who’s visiting and my sweet love, Don.

The altered dollhouses by Richard Hawkins is what a viewer is left with since they sit in the final gallery of the exhibition. These houses flirt with you: they make you crane your neck, bend down and peer into windows, move around it, engage with it, all the while enjoying moments with your inner peeping tom.

It is all so lovely, peering into these fictional little worlds and creating in them a story, a narrative, imagining pain and joy within quiet walls. Hawkins desires this reaction from viewers no doubt and this required voyeurism also seems to be a comment on the consumption of art itself. Even though these houses are empty and devoid of people, there is this slight feeling that you may be caught in the act of peeping, this act reflecting onto the viewer what the viewer does to art — consumes it, glares at it and into it.

Hawkins’ sense of humor and endless imagination is apparent throughout the entire exhibition, but with the altered states of these empty dollhouses he is not only showing off his imagination, he is challenging ours.


One Comment

  • Nice review of the Hawkins dollhouses, I like that you only focused on those objects. Do you think the patchwork construction was purposeful? What about the odd proportions-the narrow first floor and expanded upper floors? I suppose what I’m wondering is whether you read anything into these forms beyond the “peeping” into hidden worlds idea. I really enjoyed these objects also.

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