It’s not uncommon to drive along the highway and see an old, abandoned farmhouse through the car window. However, with “The Dollhouse,” Saskatchewan-based artist Heather Benning encourages people to look at these structures differently.
In 2005, Benning gained access to an abandoned farmhouse located near Sinclair, Manitoba, Canada.
For two years, she worked tirelessly to restore the building and turn it into a massive work of art. This labor included reshingling the roof, as well as repainting, refurnishing, and redecorating the interior to mimic the style of the last time it was occupied (the 1960s).
In addition to completely transforming the farmhouse’s interior, Benning also removed the north façade of the structure and replaced it with plexiglass. This allowed people to easily see inside and examine the unique furnishings in each room.
In an interview with This is Colossal, Benning explained her decision for sealing the house. She explained that keeping viewers “at a remove” forced them to think about what creates a sense of home. She also said that “The Dollhouse” tells a story of humans’ “profound desire for re-connection with place.”
In June of 2007, “The Dollhouse” officially opened to the public. Unfortunately, the house was intentionally burned to the ground six years later. However, those who are curious about its tenure can see it in all its glory in a short film — also called “The Dollhouse” — created by Benning and Chad Galloway — a Vancouver-based filmmaker and motion designer.
A statement by the filmmakers describes “The Dollhouse” film as an “experimental, non-fiction film” that documents the decommissioning of Benning’s work.