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Alice in Wonderland

Khuong Nguyen is one of many photographers in this exhibition to reference the classic Victorian novel Alice in Wonderland. There’s something about the freedom of the digital revolution that seems to jail-break the Lewis Carroll in our photographers.

Maggie Taylor illustrated her own edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and three of those illustrations are featured here. Brooke Shaden references Alice when talking about her photograph, The Untamed Sea. Josef Astor references the Queen of Hearts when talking about his photograph, César Pelli Wearing the Carnegie Tower. Ted Grudowski references Lewis Carroll as an influence on his photographs, Chrysalis Interlude and Espiritu de la Lejana.

There is something archetypal and Jungian about the things that happen in Alice in Wonderland. Alice falls and falls and falls, opening jars of marmalade, curtseying to no one, saying to herself, “Do cats eat bats?” She eats a bit of mushroom and her neck grows so long that she’s mistaken for a serpent. The laws of physics, biology and logic are constantly subverted, as if they were nothing more than layers in Photoshop.

What is important in Alice’s world, and also in the world of many of our photographers, is not the real world, with its pedestrian adherence only to what is allowable. Photographing that world bores them. What is riveting is the inner world, the subterranean depths, that strange, post-logical world in which rabbits glance anxiously at their watches and little girls have tea with a dormouse, and it means something that we can’t quite grasp, can’t fully remember, can’t untangle from its nonsense, but at the same time, can’t get out of our minds.

 

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