Alice in process…

Instead of the question “Who is Alice?” there are now paths leading to what Alice might come to be…

2 Sep 2010

Alices by Švankmajer

  Fabulous monsters


 Jan Švankmajer


Alice went to visit the Czech surrealist Jan Švankmajer, who illustrated the two Alice books in two rare and strange Japanese editions. His drawings went beyond the limits of conventional illustrations, creating unexpected relationships between pictures and conversations. They are collages that reinvent the world imagined by Lewis Carroll, proposing new mysteries and paradoxes along a surrealist journey.


Metamorphosis in surrealism became a violent and animalistic need, straining the limits of human nature. Life is a dream. The surrealist monsters showed Alice that subjectivity was not that safe and stable place that she had been made to believe. Alice found herself inserted into an imaginary jungle of sphinxes and chimeras, among collages with multiple identities that emerged from subterranean, strange, and archaic worlds. The drawings were mounted and dismounted, metamorphosing between images of biology and botany, dolls, Victorian illustrations, and sex symbols—double, multiple transformations.


 Jan Švankmajer / Wonderland





 Jan Švankmajer / Wonderland


In the Jabberwocky’s portmanteau words, there was a bestiary of beings such as toves and mome raths. Word collages were turned by Švankmajer into monster collages, hybrid and enigmatic beings. Alice’s body was unstable and mutating, a puzzle without any right answer. Alice is a portmanteau of impossibilities. When the caterpillar asks Alice, Who are you?, Švankmajer’s Alice is a drawing, a doll, a mushroom, lace, texture, pulse. The caterpillar and Alice meet with a vital élan, filled with the power of becoming.

Alice continued along and watched fragments of Švankmajer’s experimental animated film that revealed unsuspected dimensions of herself. Much of the animation was created through an explosive mixture of stop motion and a wide variety of surreal objects and hybrid, bizarre bodies. The characters might be played by machines, socks, clay, antique dolls and toys, meat, and even skeletons and the remains of bodies used in taxidermy experiments. The settings were ruins: decadent, subterranean landscapes, transformed into a somber and dissolute atmosphere.



 Jan Švankmajer / Wonderland



Švankmajer adapted Carroll’s story according to a personal dialogue with the dream world and his own childhood: a world inhabited by desires, latent sexuality, fears, anxieties, mysteries, and obsessions. We are also confronted with our own childhood, our own Alices, fears, and shadows: inner alchemies. Each time we watch the film, we dream anew and Alice becomes a different one, among silences and whispers. I am reminded of the letter Paulo Mendes Campos gave to his daughter, Maria de Graça, when she turned fifteen and received Alice as a present: This book is crazy, Maria, the meaning is inside of you.



 Jan Švankmajer / Wonderland








Sobre o filme AQUI





Jan Švankmajer / Looking Glass



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