“We try to be safe and comfortable in our cozy little homes. At the same time I find it ironic that we watch mediated images of terror, war and threatening events, which cause us to be fearful and also suspicious of our neighbours.”

Sylvia Ziemann’s latest installation sheds light on the state of our own security, or “(In)Security” as she refers to it. The miniature houses offer a visionary invitation into the relevance of news and media and how we internalize these cultural facets into social practice. Through wooded fixtures, fine fabrics and stacked imagery viewers journey inside various life-like homes, prompting inquisition and the evaluation of circumstance.

After having children Ziemann reassessed her portrayal of what rests inside and outside the window, delving into a medley of idiosyncrasies that manifest in the psyche. Focusing on what is absorbed, whether it is the uncertainty of this world or our attraction to habit – “Home (In)Security” addresses underlying fears and how such fret powers behaviour.

As expressed by Benjamin Franklin, “distrust and caution are the parents of security.” So, does one ever really trust thy neighbours? Are we inherently afraid of demonic hyperboles or do we have a fetish for control that keeps us second-guessing?

“My mother at age 80 was absorbed in watching the news each night, and when the war in Iraq was in full force she started to have nightmares. Her nightmares were flashbacks to her own teenage years in Nazi Germany where she had to run to the bomb shelters when the allied forces decided to carpet bomb her city. She has some stories she’s told me of death in the streets that would make your toes curl.”

Ziemann’s tangible art encourages a palpable reasoning that forces us to confront our concerns, but also connect with each other. For example, in the ‘Hostages’ piece there is a tiny Hansel and Gretal book underneath the porch that’s been added to parallel fiction with reality. Ziemann likes to consider modern day fairy tales in some of her works and the Hansel and Gretal inclusion was her way to explain kidnapping to her kids.

The body of works, which include intricate wires, fabric cuts, lights and motion sensors, were made in the summer months, which allowed Ziemann to sand and saw outdoors. Small accents like magazines have been incorporated to give the imaginary person’s home a splash of personality and open a dialogue through discovery.

“I also spend long periods writing scripts for the videos. Then I plan for the actors or use myself in the stories. I do many drawings in tiny thumbnails, much like a story board in a movie script.”

Influenced by artists such as Janet Cardiff, David Hoffas and Wyn Gelynse, the Regina-based artist seeds artistic complacency through multi-dimensional creations.

Each story-stricken diorama extends our digested mania, forming our present day characters through the use of sight, sound and touch.

You can see some of Sylvia’s past work courtesy of Canadian Art.
Sylvia Ziemann is represented by Mysteria Gallery (Regina, SK) and gallerywest (Toronto, ON).