In the beginning of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland the White Rabbit bustles in to young Alice’s life and causes quite the commotion. He’s late, he’s strange, and he’s going somewhere. Alice follows.
The White Rabbit’s presence acts as an invitation to Alice. His direction entices her to question her own direction. She follows him down the hole but once there she must find herself. The White Rabbit residency on Red Clay farm, serves a similar role to that held by Carrol’s creature.
The residency is an invitation.
Artists are invited to a week of gardened meals, salted airs, radioed voices, forested nooks, swimmable ponds, open arms and guided dreams. The farm functions as a flexible forum where art can happen. The invitation is there and it is the artists who rsvp. They are the ones who inhabit the space and bend it into new forms. Though the residents are called, “Rabbits” they are more like Alices, wandering down the hole, trying out various mushrooms.
This is the feeling of White Rabbit; a curious journey, an exploration.
But instead of being the only wanderer in Wonderland, the White Rabbit residents are alone together. When asked to describe the feeling of this year’s Rabbit a few sentiments echoed through the woods: community, collaboration, support, process, productivity.
Around cornucopic feasts these artists would meet and talk and smile and share and challenge each other and solve their problems. The time together was fuel for the times apart. And even when apart there was always a link back to each other echoing over a variety of portable radios where their sounds, their voices, were broadcast from the White Rabbit radio station, Red Clay Radio.
The residency strikes a balance, between work and play, thought and action, together and apart.
The result of this balance is a utopian feeling. An other-worldy felicity. But, as our Greek etymology teaches us, utopia is no-place. Alice wakes up. The week does end. This world is that world.
This is when the invitation expands, first it is extended to the public – friends, family and fellow artists are invited to join the moment. A hundred person table is built to weave through the trees. It is laden with sumptuous meats and treats and meads and seeds. Music plays. The wandering spreads, we see the constellation of glowing apples, the unearthed truck, the merry-go round, the pond maid’s dance, the pottery, the dyeing, the web, the boat, the organic radio, the prom, the floating cube, the fiery clay, the burning of pompei. We are further invited to consider the residency and it’s place through a residency of our own. We do not see the spies.
The fires burn into the night and feelings are shared on wine stained lips, in soft words and big rhythms.
The night ends.
The invitation extends.
- Veronica Simmonds