Through the Looking Glass July 12 — August 30, 2002

Every now and then an exhibition is conceived while reading a book or magazine and stumbling upon a phrase or line that invokes instant familiarity, filled with vivid images. Lewis Carroll is one of my favorite photographers whose writings have inspired generations of children to dream about mock turtles, Cheshire cats, white rabbits, mad hatters and Tweedledees and Tweedledums. Carroll's gift of storytelling has led every child on a journey rife with inane characters in a land of wonder, where animals talked and houses became transparent -- where Alice fell through a rabbit hole and walked through a looking-glass.

In Alice's adventures, a looking-glass was introduced to show her kitten her sulky reflection. Through the Looking Glass brings together photographic images which incorporate the use of a mirror -- a looking- glass -- to explore ideas of self-awareness, contemplation, narcissism, fantasy and perception. Mirrors have this uncanny ability to be both comforting and unforgiving, revealing our strengths, weaknesses, desires, fears and dreams.

Among the photographs included in the show is a sequential piece by Duane Michals featuring a woman being absorbed by her reflection; William Gottlieb's image of a dapper Duke Ellington backstage prepping in his dressing room; Brassai capturing a man looking at a nude woman undressing in a brothel bedroom; Bill Brandt's portrait of Max Ernst standing in front of a mirror staring into the camera; Joel-Peter Witkin's still life of a foot propped against a mirror; Jeffrey Wolin's photograph of a Holocaust survivor standing near her dresser and mirror flanked by family photographs; Bruce Davidson's image of a girl primping in front of a mirror under a Brooklyn boardwalk as her boyfriend rolls up his sleeve in a James Dean posture.

Through the Looking Glass reminds us that mirrors reflect both the truth and what we want to see, questioning our sense of reality. Like Alice in her wonderland, we seek a place of fantasy from which we will inevitably wake.
 
 

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