Friday, April 8, 2011

Alice in the wunderkammer

music: Joanna Newsom - Jackrabbits

Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

Roger Cardinal indicates that 'the Romantic world-view envisions any given object as the threshold to the whole cosmos: the single modest thing represents a magical microcosm of the entirety of things, and as such sheds its anonymity and assumes a revelatory distinctiveness'. This view certainly existed as encapsulated by the wunderkammern of Rudolfine Prague. As the philosopher's stone serves as a microcosm of the world, the wunderkammer assumes an alchemical extension as it yields not only a sense of the world but also the connection of one object to another. The advent of wunderkammern marks the merge of society and science as well as featuring the fluid mix of fantasy with reality:
In containing both man-made and natural objects, the Habsburg collections of the second part of the sixteenth century, like other Kunstkammern, thus reflected the contents of the universe in all its variety... In containing samples of all that was to be found in the macrocosm, the greater world, the Kunstkammer can be thought to represent the world in microcosm.
Švankmajer is an avid collector of all kinds of objects that possess potentialities for his art. His cinematic power lies in arranging objects through a provocative juxtaposition that prods them to communicate their inner stories. The mundane can become magical through inspired groupings as Švankmajer reveals life in objects believed to be dead, inert or outmoded. Since children instil toys and other objects with life through imagination, childhood serves as a potent setting for Švankmajer's object resurrections, with Carroll's Wonderland as the most advantageous backdrop.

Tina-Louise Reid, "Nĕco z Alenky / Alice" in The Cinema of Central Europe (pp. 216-217)

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