The making of a Wonderland-inspired tea party and the business of being mad
Her name was Alice.
Not the one from the book, the one who answered the door to the studio where we were shooting a two-person tea party. The all-male world of the Mad Hatter was of particular interest to us because it represents an assertive female at a messy table with abrasive characters who would rather switch seats than clean up.
When the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse see Alice coming, they yell: 'No room! No room!' to which she replies, 'There's plenty of room!' and sits down.
The tea party became a representation of creating a space for ourselves amidst the mess, and maybe, even causing a bit of a raucous. The very essence of Alice in Wonderland is in the questioning; so, instead of following the rules we’ve been told to live by, we decided to ask ‘why.’
People sometimes wonder whether their lives are meaningful, whether or not their choices add up to anything important. These are not uncommon thoughts. Still, the questions they lead to are not ones which everyone asks nor do we always recognize what we really want to know by asking them. Examining your sense of “self” at the risk of being uncomfortable feels like a rebellious act against the very ordering principles we’ve been conditioned to follow.
People are so busy bothering with the what do you want to do's that they never ask the who do you want to be’s. Anyone could know the answer. But nobody knows where Anyone is right now. We’re in a weird place.
And that is what the tea party is truly about: Imagination is not childish, it’s childlike. It’s the cure for boredom and routine, loneliness and conformity. Spend some time with it, rediscover it, and get unstuck from your expectations and arbitrary rules; especially your worries about what someone might say about your behaviour. Risk looking ridiculous for the chance to try something new; something your inner child would thank you for. And ask—really ask—“what great thing is going to happen today?” then fall in love with the idea of not knowing.
art by flory huang