Earlier this month we went to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to view the Kimono Exhibit, and while we were there we stumbled upon another exhibit titled ‘Through the Looking Glass‘. This exhibit is both a wonderful romp through the world of Alice and Lewis Carroll and an exhibit of some of the gallery’s contemporary art, tied into the theme. While the exhibit may be viewed (and toured) from any number of perspectives, it’s clear that someone had a lot of fun with this.
Encompassing several rooms, the journey takes you deep into Alice’s Looking Glass world, down the corridor and beyond the sight of the ‘real’ world left behind.
For those with an interest in contemporary art, the exhibit is a grand display of some of the gallery’s collection. For those looking for a bit of whimsy, there’s plenty of that too.
Tying the two together are various placards posted through the exhibit. Each features both an excerpt from the story and a description of the role of contemporary art in society. An example is below. (psst… depending on your interests you can read the top half of each card, the bottom half, or both)
She took her off the table as she spoke, and shook her backwards and forwards with all her might. The Red Queen made no resistance whatever: only her face grew very small, and her eyes got large and green: and still, as Alice went on shaking her, she kept on growing shorter – and fatter – and softer – and rounder – and it really was a kitten, after all.
“Now Kitty, let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all. This is a serious question, my dear, and you should not go on licking your paw like that – as if Dinah hadn’t washed you this morning! You see, Kitty, it must have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my dream, of course – but then I was part of his dream too!
Which do you think it was?”
In the landscape of contemporary art today we experience artists’ works which have adapted the various formal languages and experiments of modern art into a complex poetic of social issues, political perspectives and a critical understanding of our shared environment. Artists today realize evocative works of art which challenge the dominating and often alienating forces of our advanced capitalist society. By turning a critical perspective on the world around them, artists work to realize a culture that directly addresses and engages the world around them. Steeped in the real experiences of contemporary life, art today is a document of our hopes, struggles and ideals in order to imagine a better world for tomorrow.
By the way, if you happen to visit the Emily Carr exhibit first, you’ll come across this doorway:
You’ll notice of course that the sign reads, “THE END – For the Full Story Start at the Beginning – Please Enter” This may seem confusing at first, but the question you must ask yourself is this: Since you are entering a Looking Glass world, where everything is backward to the world that you know it, is the end really the beginning? In that case, is it better to begin at the end, or have the curators taken that into account and moved the beginning to the end so that it’s really the beginning on the other side? Hmmm… curiouser and curiouser. You’ll have to visit to find out!
And while you’re there, do take some time to go and see the middle. The kimonos and other pieces are stunning. You can get there from either end, or from the middle. But that would be telling.