In the Dollhouse
Vancouver, Canada-based photographer Dina Goldstein makes work that’s a powerful reminder of the symbolic undertones present in objects of childhood play, and the ways in which these icons can psychologically impact society — especially women. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, her fascination with emblems of Western culture has taken her beyond the realm of traditional photographer: Hand-making life-sized sets in which real-life models pose as Barbie and Ken. Her often candy-colored yet sardonic work has gained the attention of many publications as well as international galleries. An exhibition of her Fallen Princesses and In the Dollhouse series are on view at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles through June 15, 2014. We asked Goldstein to tell us more about her work and how she uses Squarespace to showcase her artwork online.
In the Dollhouse
From where does your intense interest in dolls and fairytale scenes come?
“I have been inspired by my two young daughters to create tableau photography which references Disney Princesses and Barbie and Ken dolls. The Fallen Princesses series was borne in 2007, out of a dark period when my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and at the same time my daughter was immersed in Disney Princess culture. In The Dollhouse, 2012 is a continued exploration of the cultural iconography that influences young minds today. Utilizing these characters and the traditional tools of Pop Surrealism I am able to create work that discusses cancer, failed dreams, obesity, war, pollution, ocean degradation, the extinction of indigenous cultures and the fallacy of chasing eternal youth.”
How has having children influenced the way you think about the subject matter, specifically because of the influence of typically “female” toys and motifs?
“If I had not had girls then I most likely would be headed in a different direction with my photography. As a photojournalist and editorial shooter for two decades, I have learned that spontaneity and a lack of control are sources of inspiration; also to trust my instincts and nurture the most fleeting of concepts. With my conceptual work I am able to manufacture an environment that allows me to express, explore and fantasize without limitations. What my daughters find fascinating fascinates me! I am observing as they are influenced by outside sources that are out of my control. I am curious how their young minds are being shaped, and about the societal messages and pressures that are getting through to them loud and clear. I would like to be there supporting them as they navigate through this very complicated world. ”
Your work is tinged with satire. Can you please explain this further?
“My visual language is blatant and subversive, as I can be sometimes. If the result is irony then I’m pleased. I’m taking a hard look at life instead of the ‘happily ever after’ storybook ending spoon-fed to us as children: Life that is mundane, unglamorous, and sometimes tragic. I would like people to see the humour in my work. Art is meant to create good conversation. I am grateful that both series have been so popular online, as exhibits and in the academic world.”
You have a great social media fanbase. How important is Facebook or other social media platforms to your work?
“Social media has become an essential tool for artists to communicate and engage with fans. Because of the popularity of my work online my Facebook audience has grown organically to 30+K! I am relatively new to Twitter and just signed up for Instagram. It’s not an easy task to keep up with it all (it can be a time drain) but I do try stay updated and connected daily. ?I share recent press and exhibit information, links to other artists that I appreciate, current news discussions and of course some fun stuff.”
In the Dollhouse
How have you dealt with the virality of your images on your website?
“When Fallen Princesses unexpectedly went viral in 2009 my flash-based website at the time did blow the shared server. Since then I have organized my own server space and rarely have any problems. I created my current Squarespace site two years ago, when it was a little-known company. It was recommended to me because of its ease and design versatility. Also it was rated highly on blogs and consumer reports.
“I was able to load and create my pages with very few questions that could not be answered by the video tutorials and search engine. When my ambitions grew too large for my coding skills I brought on a designer to finesse the site. Customizing is quick and efficient with the code injection options.”
In the Dollhouse
How did you build your website to best showcase your work?
“I wanted to keep the site clean and easy to figure out on the onset. The artwork had to be featured as large and as sharp as possible, without the fear of high resolution downloading and pirating. Most of the customizing involved building subcategories for my many projects. I added some custom sliders to each category, a slideshow, and quick links to the home page.”
How do the elements of Squarespace help you to connect with your audience through your homepage? What do you like best about working with the platform?
“I am constantly trying new things out with my homepage. Currently I have a slideshow of my most popular pieces running with Recent News as a quick hotlink. This is intended to grab the visitor’s attention at first view. On my main page I have many category click-throughs and the various social media buttons directly link the visitor to my social media sites.
“I have been chronically redesigning my sites for years and have finally landed on a platform that gives me the freedom to switch from design to design, changing the whole look of the site with a click of a button. My goal has been to create a site that is simple and fluid, yet provides the visitor with the whole Dina Goldstein Art experience. They can easily scroll through the pictures, have a quick read about me or come back over and over again for a more deeper understanding of who I am as an artist.”