We recently received the following note from Mabel Odessey, an American artist living in France:
I am contacting you about my current exhibition/installation at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. the exhibition opened on Alice Day July 6 and will run till the end of August so there is still time to catch it!
The subject of these pinhole photographs are marionnettes made by the English artist Margaret Littleton Cook (1940s). They explore the characters as representations of psycological states and Alice’s dream of wonderland as a spiritual journey. To come upon images in the garden unexpectedly much like Alice was confronted by characters in the books will give her psychological journey a geographic sense.
Each character Alice encounters on her journey represents a disturbing emotion that must be transformed in order to reach enlightenment. Carroll calls the Queen of Hearts the embodiment of anger. Lewis Carroll the logician brings up many philosophical debates in the books. He uses nonsense to explore concepts such as time, perception, impermanence, duality, identity and the role of language. Using marionettes as subjects echoes this playful approach.
Using the historic process of pinhole photography give the images a particular resonance and there is no denying the connection between the upside down back to front world behind the looking glass and the positive and negative in photography. Not to mention Carroll’s interest in perception and photography.
The installation considers the qualities of different spaces in the garden and uses the shady places for the darker more mysterious photographs, and more open spaces to echo the images of understanding and clarity. Visitors will have a unique experience of the images as the light and the garden change throughout the day and season.
So, if you’re in the Oxford vicinity and enjoy gardens, marionettes, and/or Alice-themed art, you have until the end of August to view this al fresco exhibit.
Before there was Instagram, people used chemical emulsifying processes to make their photographs look cool. An American artist named Mabel Odessey will have a site-specific installation at France’s Château de Lacaze from May 6 thru 30th, using the distinctly retro technique of pinhole photography. She described the show to us in an e-mail:
The photographs are made from marionettes made in the 1940s based on Tenniel illustrations. The installation will use different parts of the château to consider different aspects of the the Alice books. Visitors will descend (like Alice through the rabbit hole) into a cave like area where the photographs will pose questions of identity and perception. Visitors will then climb up to the mezzanine areas and consider the philosophical, and nonsense aspects of the books, another passageway will lead to the domain of the Queen of hearts and Carroll’s satirical look at Victorian society.
Lacaze is in the Southeast Tarn department of France. Mabel Odessey has many more galleries of her pinhole photography at her website www.mabelodessey.com. An article by Odessey and pictures from the installation will be featured in the Spring 2012 Knight Letter number 88, available to LCSNA members.
In Russia, a forty-year-old professional photographer named Vladimir Clavijo-Telepnev has also been creating beautiful old-fashion images of Alice. His series called Alice in Wonderland can be seen at his website here. There’s also a nice YouTube montage: