In the Land of Mirrors
IN THE LAND OF MIRRORS
Solo show - continuation of Wonderland
20.10.2017 - 19.11.2017
Curated by Vesna Teržan
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Through the Looking Glass
Variation no. 2 on the theme of Alice, Lewis Carroll’s heroine
"Let's pretend we're kings and queens!" Alice wanted to invite her sister to play. But the latter, who liked to be exact, challenged, "But there are only two of us!" With abundant imagination, Alice invited her sister to choose which queen she wanted to be, and she, Alice, would be "the rest of them". Yes, in childhood we were able to be everything and everyone, if we only had enough imagination and courage. Childhood, a time of play, a time of imagination and mischief, a time of innocence and tenderness, a time of small misdoings, but also a time of small sorrows, disappointments and fears; a time of hiding and seeking, a time of dark and light, a time of pretending and searching for the truth, a time of ... And in her childhood, Alice, Lewis Carroll’s heroine, was a brave little girl with a great deal of imagination.
The Wonderland exhibition, as part of the Art Critics Select programme (of 2016 at Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana) was a unique photographic work and the predecessor of the project In the Land of Mirrors, or, in other words, the project In the Land of Mirrors came as a logical follow-up to the previous Wonderland project. Arven Šakti interpreted and presented Carroll's non-classical fairytale Alice in the Wonderland in 2016 in the form of a large-scale photomontage, that took us into the world of little girls, into the world of their wish and reverie, finding trauma and frustration, and finally encountering all that, which is loaded in the unconscious, where there is no oblivion, where nothing disappears, where everything is inscribed and remains eternal. Yet this can, from time to time, be revealed in our dreams as an incredible landscape or fantastic experience. Carroll accompanied his Alice across such dream landscapes and fantastic and imaginary experiences, helping generations of girls and women to escape to wonderland and giving them the opportunity to slip through the 'gelatine' of the looking glass into a world of reflection, through their own unrealised, suppressed dreams. And what do girls and women have in store there? As if everything were the same in the mirror world – but, no, it is different! An asymmetrical, imperfect world discloses itself that is often not only warped and altered in its appearance, but also in its actions and values. Growing up means an agonizing confrontation with this world, which is not perfect, not fair and not nice. And at the same time, it could be all of those things – fair and nice, kind and tolerant – if mankind only found enough strength and resolve for good deeds to prevail. Carroll knew all that, and this is why he retreated to the world of logic, mysterious puzzles, apparent nonsense, humour and fantasy in his tales.
In the project In the Land of Mirrors, Arven Šakti makes us face the little girls, who look to the world, who look to us, and we look them back in the eye. As we face them, their curiosity, search for a path and some sense, we become a part of their world with their trepidation and spirit. They invite us to join in their game; the game of helping them to understand this world. The steps of today's little girls through the mirror into the twisted world of adults seem at first glance tougher and more complex than they were in Carroll's time, given that the world has seen radical change over the past 150 years, in some aspects for the better, and in many others, for the worse. Growing up has not grown any easier nowadays than it used to be. The world of the Internet and social networks comes up as one of the 'mirror images' of our society that can be hurtful to a gentle youthful soul. Even in the worst of forms, like for instance hateful Facebook profiles created by classmates for all those that are 'different', more sensitive, bright, talented, and perhaps not completely adaptable to this cruel world. And, yes, children can be cruel, too!
The transition from childhood to the world of grown-ups is a long process of tackling reality. It is a time for a new type of socialization, yet unknown to children, which is different from that accustomed to in one's family and small circle of close friends. Arven Šakti has taken her little girls into the land of mirrors (into a world of the twisted mirror image), by building up the story through various components: chessboards, rabbits, chairs, books, empty spaces ..., which have a strong symbolic meaning and which can be interpreted by every observer in their own personal way, be that in the eloquence of Carroll's story or modern-day events and norms. Arven Šakti thoughtfully stages, edits and positions the story into space and time. The little girls remain her main motif also this time. But on this occasion, in the mirror images of the land of memory, which slowly slips through the membrane, as if the images were involved in the process of osmosis, 'social osmosis'.
Vesna Teržan, art historian