Giovanna’s Doll House in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli: Giovanna Cerise – Doll’s House

At the start of the week, I visited Sybil, one of two new installations by Giovanna Cerise that opened at the end of July 2021. In my review of that installation (see: Giovanna’s Sybil in Second Life), I noted that I would also be visiting her other installation as well (which actually opened the same day) – although time and circumstance has meant I’m actually getting to it later than I’d anticipated when writing about Sybil!

Doll’s House is one of several exhibitions to have opened recently at Aneli Abeyante’s La Maison d’Aneli complex in Second Life, and it is once again a signature piece by Giovanna, being both layered and tonal, presenting the visitor with what at first seems to be merely a room of sculptures, but which actually encourages us to think about what we’re seeing on a number of levels.

The room is clearly the Doll’s House of the title, and the sculptures – 3D renderings on humans caught in various situations / poses  – the “dolls” within it. However, they are not rendered as dolls; rather they appear an monofilament meshes, their vertices and triangles all visible as they sit, lie, stand, balance precariously, the majority juggling or playing balancing tricks with one or more mesh balls.

Monochrome in nature – black vertices and white mesh faces, set within a monochrome house, the black, grey and white here and there broken by lines, dots and dashes of red and a single 2D red silhouette – the installation may at first appear to be random and without expression. However, this is far from the case.

La Maison d’Aneli: Giovanna Cerise – Doll’s House

Set on the walls of the lobby area just outside the installation, is large red sign with the invitation Touch for a Notecard. Doing so will present you with Giovanna’s thoughts on Doll’s House, which reveal it is an exercise in consideration:

House doll game irony objective balance precariousness obsession multitasking ephemeral presence absence alienation homologation fashion perfection risk superficiality smoothness narcissism socialization expression angle omnipresence ego story truth lie form oppression annihilation distortion violence choice impossible possible freedom slavery….
These are some of the words that came to mind while I was building, looking, modifying Doll’s House . My invitation [to you] is to leave a word on a notecard that you could then put in the lens. The word can be chosen from those that I have listed or linked to it or the one that comes to mind, freely, after viewing the installation.
The words you will leave will be the starting point for the development of a multifaceted artistic project that will create chains, intersections, overlaps, emotions, suggestions, visions, reflections. Thanks everyone for participating.

– Giovanna Cerise

Thus, Doll’s House might be seen as a means of opening the door for ideas that might be employed in an upcoming installation Giovanna is planning; an exercise in word-play, the characters within the house intended to spark our thinking. But might there be something more?

To me, the answer is clearly “yes” – although in saying so, I don’t want to sway people into feeling their thoughts and words must be trammelled by what I have to say here; those who wish to share in Giovanna’s work might therefore be best served by going to La Maison d’Aneli to witness and respond to it without the excess baggage of my own cogitations, and perhaps come back to this piece after doing so.

La Maison d’Aneli: Giovanna Cerise – Doll’s House

So, with that said, and my warning hopefully heeded, I’ll state that I could not help but find Giovanna’s list of words to be a reflection of life – both in the physical sense and the virtual. Each one can easily be applied to our moods, situations, circumstances, relationships, real and virtual, singular and collective, so much so that the list, wrapped as it is within Doll’s House, becomes a prompt for considered introspection on Life The Universe and Everything (but mostly life), the “dolls” of the piece the cues for us to consider who we are what we do, how we face situations, respond to the physical  and mental condition / situation of those around us.

In presenting the figures in a mesh-like form, Giovanna seems to be encouraging us to consider these thoughts not just as they affect us in the physical world, but how we carry them – whether we accept this or not – with us into the virtual. Because at the end of the day, aren’t virtual environments like Second Life the ultimate doll’s house? Places where we can play dress-up, and make-believe, become what we wish – yet always carry with us that central essence of who we are? Are the not also a microcosm of life itself, in that howsoever we opt to utilise that trait we call “free will” does carry consequences, personal and potentially collective.

La Maison d’Aneli: Giovanna Cerise – Doll’s House

If one accepts this viewpoint, then might it not be fair to say that as well as an invitation to participate, Doll’s House is also presenting us with a very subtle mirrored glass rather than a simple lens; one that allows us to peek into Giovanna’s creativity whilst also seeing into our our lives and actions?

I’ll say nothing more, having possibly belaboured the point; but I do urge you to witness and consider Doll’s House for yourself, and for you to leave a word for Giovanna. Just take the teleporter from the gallery’s main landing point.

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