Monday, April 4, 2011

House No. 94: The Witch's House from Hansel and Gretel

House No. 94: The Witch's House from Hansel and Gretel
repurposed cardstock, candy wrappers, glue
6 in. x 6 in. x 7 in.
094/365; 04/04/11

This house has a cloying, almost sickeningly sweet smell. The violet candy wrapper makes it smell like flowers as well, and all those chocolate paper shingles smell very strong.  And yes, I am guilty of collecting a box full of these lovely wrappers. I am a magpie when it comes to shiny paper.

And so I return to my fairy tale houses today. Hansel and Gretel is a sick story, make no mistake. Two children are left by their father to die in the woods, are entrapped by a witch with an edible house, and are threatened with cannibalism. 

And yet we love gingerbread houses and put them up everywhere at Christmas time. I am as guilty as the next person. I have a small collection of gingerbread houses, and in fact, my sister and I have matching gingerbread house tattoos. I think that I am as attracted by the foreboding of the gingerbread house as I am by its preciousness. 

This duality of fairy tales, the sweet and the sinister, really fascinates me.

I love the complexity of fairy tales, and I am learning a lot more about them while working on these houses. Did you know about the Aarne–Thompson Index? I did not, but now that I do, I am a woman obsessed.

The Aarne–Thompson Index is a classification system for folktales that comparitively organizes (primarily European) folk stories by subject and groups and numbers them. It's amazing to consider the common themes that connect cultures and what we deem important knowledge.

Hansel and Gretel is such a complex story that it is even an opera.

Who thought fairy tales were just for children?

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