Torie Zalben’s Asian Oasis House
I was born in Los Angeles, California. I attended Loyola Marymount University majoring in Film and TV and later studied at NYU where I received an MA in Video Art and Media. My current art practice focuses on arranging miniatures and experimental digital photography.
What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?
When I was 8 or 9 years old, I remember visiting the Museum of Miniatures with my mother. The museum featured an intricate collection of dollhouses from around the world. In the museum’s gift shop they sold handmade miniatures and houses that I would admire for hours. During the holiday season, my mother gifted me with a custom colonial style dollhouse (equipped with electricity) and the journey towards collecting miniatures began.
Where did you find the Asian Oasis house?
Twenty years after having my first dollhouse, my passion returned. Late one night, I went on Craigslist and stumbled upon photos of the miniature house. I purchased the Asian Oasis house with the intention to restore it and incorporate it into my art practice. This dollhouse then sat in my art studio for some time until I was inspired to start collecting handmade antique furniture and accessories. It took a few years to gather the items and restore the home to complete my artistic vision.
What is your intention with this house?
My intention is to display the house in a gallery setting with accompanying photographs of each room. I imagine spectators spending time actively meditating upon each room and discovering the intricacies of the home’s architecture and design elements.
Who photographed the Asian Oasis house?
Photographs of the dollhouse are by Connor Helm. To see more of his photography, check out @connor_helm on Instagram.
After a conversation with the curator of Angels Attic, a nonprofit miniature museum in Santa Monica, CA, I learned that dollhouses and miniatures were used as training tools for little girls to run a household. This fact really made me think of my past associations with my own dollhouse; spending hours alone rearranging my home, pretending that I was the lady of the house and everything was always in order. I am utilizing the Asian Oasis house to heal my subconscious childhood programming of running a household and societal expectations of a traditional house wife. Working on this home has been a meditative art practice of assemblage, interior decorating, and narrative development. I imagine retreating to this home with my best friends having a rest in the upstairs wedding bed, playing piano downstairs, having tea in the tea room, admiring the birds in the cage, putting on our makeup in the vanity mirror, and watering the various flowers and plants around the home.
Torie Zalben is a multimedia photographer and filmmaker known for her work depicting dream-like characters in abstract settings. Her one-of-a-kind Asian Oasis house is currently located in Los Angeles. To see more photos, head on over to Instagram and follow @torie.z and check out the #asianoasisdollhouse hashtag on Instagram, too. To view more of Torie’s video and photography work, visit her website.