The idea of utopia, for my group, was a dystopia in disguise – something might appear in one way, but discovers something utterly else that is covered by a superficial top layer.
Our idea is working with fragile and stable materials. Right now, we are experimenting with different materials – butter, margarine, wax, etc. We are trying to figure out what materials, in combination as well (fragile + stable) would be stable enough to mold, but fragile enough to melt when exposed to an artificial heat source.
Right now, inspired by Joseph Beuys, I am working with margarine and melted candles by building a top layer using these materials over clay miniature models.
The British Library has opened its’ doors to visitors to step into the wonderful world of Alice in Wonderland with their highly anticipated exhibition.
Alice as a story has an interesting origin. Lewis Carroll, a mathematician and a scientist with a passion for writing took three of his Oxford university dean’s daughters to a boat trip. The youngest one, Alice, enjoyed stories Carroll told, and he decided to write down one of the stories and give it to Alice as a present.
The story has magical potions, various creatures and places of the Wonderland. It is all so very magical. However, the exhibition itself does not portrait that. The space is crowded, somewhat with the great amount of content displayed in glass shelves which work, in a way as a labyrinth portraying the Wonderland of the story. The space is small, even though it contains re-imagined Alice from various artist and illustrators – ranging from Dali and his beautiful lithographs, Margareth Tarrant’s re-imagined image of Alice wearing a red headband and a white dress, to Ralph Steadman’s political twist to the story. The great amount of work is not served well by the space. To me, the gift shop portraits the story better than the actual exhibition with the amazing ceiling installation and exaggerated pop-up’s of Alice and the Mad hatter.
Coming back to the origin of the story, it might sounds as a quite a romantic and philanthropic thing what Carroll did – gifting a story to his young friend, but Carroll had an unhealthy obsession with Alice, I would say. Could Carroll’s obsession with Alice be something besides paternal care? Even if we take into consideration that in Victorian times age of consent was 12, a photograph of one of Alice’s sisters was found – Laureen. She is naked in that photograph, in her early teenage years. By no means, weather we’re talking about Victorian times or 21st century, no parent would allow this. And so it seemed to the dean of Oxford when he fired Carroll and the relationship with the family changed. This analysis might be a case of imposing mentality of 21st century, but with the evidence of Carroll taking that photograph of Lauren comes the question of ethics.
Alice in Wonderland is a great story, but it wasn’t represented well in the exhibition. It is worth seeing purely because of the different visual interpretations of the wonderland and its’ characters. However, story of Lewis Carroll is yet to be discovered and explored.