|'I almost wish I hadn't gone down that
rabbit-hole – and yet- and yet – it's rather
curious, you know, this sort of life! I do wonder what can have
happened to me! When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied
that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in
the middle of one! There ought to be a book written about
me, that there ought! And when I grow up, I'll write one.'
in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Stories allow us collectively and as individuals
to safely "play" within narrative structures. The characters
on screen, in a book, on a stage—particularly when
we are children—become extensions of our collective
fantasies enacting both our fears and desires. They stay
with us, almost as ghosts in our subconscious, resonating
throughout our dreams and experiences, often defining our "real"
life construction of what reality entails.
For the Wondermare exhibition, we have
chosen the narrative template of Alice
in Wonderland where childhood serves as a grand metaphor
for the stages of development and the often nonsensical
rituals that we must travel through in order to obtain
a civilized or adult persona in the world we see through
our looking glass. The construction of reality
that we, as individuals, must engage to emerge as "functioning"
entities in society is increasingly dictated by the illusion
of media and technology, both of which are projections
of fabricated, idealized identities. Becoming aware of
our own construction of an identity is perhaps the first
level of conscious awareness that we, as thinking people,
can undertake. The fixed certitude of the role that we
are playing at any given time is the measure of our commitment
to either a social position or our sanity—either
of which is a fluid state depending on the circumstances
'But I don't want to go among mad people,'
'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat:
"we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't
have come here.'
Wondermare is based on the notion that
much of the behavioral conditioning in our subconscious
is the unhealthy byproduct of a world out of balance, a house
of cards on the brink of catastrophe; the truth of
which is obscured from us by our own myopic pursuits and
We believe that society, and identity itself,
are truly at a crucial cultural juncture. As safety nets
disintegrate—i.e. the guarantee of entry into bourgeois
life and, if one plays by the rules, its trappings of financial
security—prove to be mere illusions and such constructs
of "lifestyle and luxury", in their excessive nature,
continue gambling with the future of the planet and all
living species that inhabit it.
The prominent question then is what role
will you choose to play in the grand scheme of this consumptive
"tea party"? Perhaps you are Alice, a naïve child/woman
who wraps herself in consumer goods and the protective
gendered power of passive subjectivity. Or maybe you are
the Mad Hatter, the bad boy enabler who gloriously advocates
addictive destruction; or the Red Queen, a sadist who revels
in the servitude of subordinates who languish in their
own lack of personhood. Or maybe you are the Rabbit, someone
who pursues their identity through technological masks
and veils, whose interactivity shields them from real human
interaction and the messy byproducts of emotional entanglements.
Do you see yourself as the Mother/Duchess, a role either
chosen or forced upon you due to the state of one's biological
or cultural determinism? Or maybe you're the zealot: the
Muslim, the Jew, the Christian, the Cop, the Revolutionary,
the one who immerses their identity in favor of an ideology,
a dogma that obscures their need for questions concerning
one's own place in the social hierarchy.
It is the task of the new hero and heroine
to navigate these roles and unfamiliar channels and at
last emerge from this illusion forging a new personal and
social consciousness. As such, Wondermare will seek to
unravel these narrative notions by asking you, the gallery
visitor, to become a participant in your own story, choosing
to play one of the above characters or one of your own
and allowing your voice to emerge through the process.
We ask you to "pick a card," and answer
a question against a live camera in front of a green screen. The green screen will
allow us, in a final edit, to place you anywhere and against
any backdrop. The narrative of the story will no longer
stay fixed and instead a new plot will be enabled as you
become the star and a new film emerges from each interaction.
As you become part of this video installation,
Wondermare will ask you to reexamine and redefine your
relationship to the world and the stories you have spun,
internally and externally.
Immersed in an eight-screen video landscape,
you will feel compelled to address the parts of yourself
that are hidden, repressed and denied. As an interactive
exhibition, the show creates the opportunity for a psychological
rebooting or do over, where you will have another chance
at addressing your own rights of cultural passage that
you may or may not have gotten right the first time around.
'Who are you?' said the Caterpillar.
Alice replied, rather shyly, '– I
hardly know, sir, just at present – at least I know
who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must
have been changed several times since then.'
'What do you mean by that,' said the Caterpillar
sternly. 'Explain yourself.'
'I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir,'
said Alice, 'because I'm not myself, you see.'
For some minutes the Caterpillar puffed
away without speaking, but at last it unfolded its arms,
took the hookah out of its mouth again, and said, 'So you
think you're changed, do you?'
'I'm afraid I am, sir,' said Alice.
It is time to fall down a rabbit hole,
to play a new role and forge a commitment to a different
Welcome to Wondermare.
Susan McIntosh was born and raised in San Francisco where
she attended UC Berkeley and majored in dead Irish poets. After
graduating she moved to London and worked for a record company
gathering "research" on a wide variety of dialects that later
translated into a standup act. After being deported, she attended
the MFA film program at Columbia University. The short film
she produced there took her around the world and won the New
York division of The Student Academy Awards. For her thesis
she made a feature film about a pair of star-crossed circus
freaks. The script won a Panavision Young Filmmakers Award.
After graduation she was signed to ICM and later Writers and
Artists, optioning screenplays to Senza Films and Delornra
Films. McIntosh has worked developing shows with both IFC and
Bravo. She created a one-person show, "Midnight in Brooklyn,"
whose characters went on to star in an MTV promotional campaign
and premiered on the 2005 VMA's. At the Fishtank Gallery in
Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2002, she was awarded a solo show
and installation. She chose to construct a Victorian set and
create a play based on the writings and letters of Oscar Wilde.
She played Oscar. The work was later presented at The National
Arts Club by the Junior Committee. Most recently McIntosh had
a sold out one-person show at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
called "Spawn and Die."
Albert Wilking was born in Anaheim,
California near Disneyland to a photographer painter mother
and inventor father. Wilking lived an early bohemian life
traveling and camping all over the west coast, New Mexico and
Texas before moving to New Brunswick, NJ. Daytrips were common
to Soho and to abandoned barns along the Delaware. At the age
of seven he began sketching on a regular basis. With his father's
encouragement he had a number of shows and sold a couple dozen
paintings by the time he was 12, garnering press including
The New York Times. Wilking received a BS from the College
of New Jersey. He attended the New School University, NYC,
for screenwriting and Pratt Institute, NYC for Flash animation.
In 2002 the Queens Museum in New York City acquired two of
his paintings through the Monique Goldstrom Gallery, Soho,
NY. In 2006 Wilking formed Crazy Studios, turning his love
of painting to video and writing. He has produced over fifty
viral videos, garnering attention from web junkies across the
world. In 2008 he partnered with Susan McIntosh to produce