Alice

in the Wonderland of Art

22 June – 30 September 2012
Galerie der Gegenwart, 1st and 2nd Floor

A Tour of the Exhibition

 

  • Pipilotti Rist (*1962) Das Zimmer, 1994
    Pipilotti Rist (*1962), Das Zimmer, 1994
  • Monika Sosnowska , Ohne Titel, 2004
    Monika Sosnowska , Ohne Titel, 2004

 

The Metamorphosis of Space

Rooms, doors, spaces – open or closed, narrow or wide: during her adventures in Wonderland, Alice not only meets a number of strange characters, she also comes across many extraordinary places. The works on show by renowned artists such as Monika Sosnowska, Pipilotti Rist, Luc Tuymanns, Mel Bochner and Gary Hill explore the experience of space in ways that recall the complex spatial dynamics of Carroll's Wonderland, enabling viewers to make their own journey through a fascinating world of visual invention.

The Metamorphosis of Things and Objects

"Why is a raven like a writing-desk?" This famous unanswered riddle, posed by the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, was already the subject of much speculation during Lewis Carroll's lifetime. A raven and a writing desk do indeed seem to have so little in common that a solution may have to be found on a different level, perhaps that of language. Or perhaps the goal of Carroll's brain-teaser is to remind us that it is always possible to invent new 'rules' during an ongoing game – as children do without a second thought. It is a matter of being open-minded and curious enough to consider things and objects in different relations to one another – a quality that was later applied and demanded by the Surrealists. With its seemingly absurd comparison of unrelated thoughts, words, things and beings, Carroll's nonsensical riddle operates in this context and represents a strategy that continues to inspire artists to this day.

The Metamorphosis of the Body and the Self

In the Alice novels, the little girl is repeatedly asked who she is. Alice finds it hard to answer this question, as the changes she observes taking place within her own body also have an unsettling effect on her internal orientation and sense of self. On a purely mechanical level, the extent and force of these erratic changes in size – when Alice stretches and shuts up "like a telescope" – could simply serve to provide amusement. The real challenge for Carroll's main character, however, lies in her experience of – and constant awareness of – the possibility of physical metamorphosis. Not only does Alice become physically and mentally estranged from herself as she grows and shrinks; the subliminal threat of unexpected changes occurring in her body also means that her sense of identity is permanently unstable.