Alice (Mostly) Doesn’t Live Here in Second Life

The 22 ArtSpace: Alice (Mostly) Doesn’t Live Here – Boudicca Amat and Trinity Yazimoto

I confess that when the invitation to visit the exhibition at The 22 ArtSpace, the boutique gallery operated by Ricco Saenz and Randy Firebrand in Bellisseria, which opened on April 1st, 2022, my mind immediately leapt to thoughts of the Scorsese comedy drama starring Ellen Burstyn.

However. whilst somewhat similarly titled, the ArtSpace exhibition, Alice (Mostly) Doesn’t Live Here has nothing to do with Scorsese’s Alice Docesn’t Live Here Anymore, but instead takes its inspiration from the poetic writings of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who better known by his pen-name of Lewis Carroll gave birth to a pair of literary classics – books that have proven enduringly popular in Second Life, simply because of their marvellous dive into the world of literary nonsense and adventure.

The 22 ArtSpace: Alice (Mostly) Doesn’t Live Here – Ricco Saenz and Whiskey Monday

The exhibition features one or two images by Randy and Ricco, together with Boudicca Amat, Whiskey Monday and Trinity Yazimoto, that have been drawn from a pre-defined list of Carroll’s poems, with the poem itself offered alongside each picture.

Within the 22 ArtSpace house, which has been redressed by Ricco and Randy to suggest the kind of living spaces in which Carroll may well have penned his works, this is a light-hearted and engaging  little exhibition that presents a treat for those – like me – who enjoy the author’s broad wit and observations.

The 22 ArtSpace: Alice (Mostly) Doesn’t Live Here – Randy Firebrand

Offered without pretence or metaphor or allegory – but occasionally with a moral -, these are pictures and poems intended to raise a smile and offer light reflection. And, truth be told, they succeed in both! And while they may not be within the main pictures on display, neither Mr. Carroll not Miss A. Liddell pass entirely without mention!

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A touch of sci-fi at 22 Artspace in Second Life

22 ArtSpace: Ricco Saenz (l) and Wicca Merlin (r)

The holiday period is often a time for sitting back and enjoying a film (or six!), and networks and streaming services tend to offer us an especially good mix of genres to enjoy – including a drop or two of sci-fi. I mention this because Ricco Saenz and Randy Firebrand are currently presenting a pair of exhibition at their 22 ArtSpace Gallery in Bellisseria that mix the subjects of sci-fi and film quite naturally.

Within the main gallery space – occupying one of the Victorian style houses within Bellesseria – is a further pairing of artists in what might be seen as a continuation of the gallery’s “duet series”, with Electric Sheep featuring a series of images by Wicca Merlin and Ricco himself.

22 Artspace: Ricco Saenz

For his pieces, Ricco follows-up on the exhibition title with pieces that could be said to be inspired by Ridey Scott’s Blade Runner films (and those that are stylistically similar). They offer us a series of images set within a city, focusing on an assortment of individuals; setting and subject forming a whole in scenes which it is easily possible to imagine Philip K. Dick’s Rick Deckard – as personified by Harrison Ford – walking or running through, or Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty from the original Blade Runner film standing and observing – or calculating his next move in his quest for continuance.

Wicca Merlin, meanwhile, offers images very much focusing on the individual. Some of them would not look out of place in Dick’s / Scott’s Los Angeles, others of whom could equally be found in the likes of the Alien franchise – or the imagination of H.R. Giger. Others offer a touch of fantasy, whilst all are expressive and make rich use of colour and tone, with more than enough within them for us to form our own stories around them without undue prompting.

22 ArtSpace: Wicca Merlin

Reached via teleport, the second level of the gallery – and, I believe, new with the current installations – is a skybox that is home to an exhibition of images be Huckleberry Hax.

Waarheid: Truth Hunter offers a series of 14 images focused on the character Waarheid, first seen in Hax’s 2020 sci-fi machinima STÖMOL (which I reviewed here), played by Caitlin Tobias and who is due to lend her name to Hax’s follow-up to STÖMOL, due for release in 2022.

These are images that, outside of the context of Hax’s films might be hard to grasp. Drenched in a bloody red, dark in other tones, their focus / meaning isn’t that easy to comprehend sans the introductory notes Hax provides, and the descriptive elements added to each picture. These provide insight to the character, helping to round-out her background from before STÖMOL and lay a foundation for the character in readiness for the next film.

22 ArtSpace: Huckleberry Hax

Both Electric Sheep and Waarheid are small exhibitions, easily seen as a pairing, joined as they are by their sci-fi themes. As such, they make for an easy, enjoyable visit for the holiday season, although both will be open to visit through until March 19th, 2022.

Note: updated following the comment, below, from Huckleberry Hax on his Waarheid exhibition. 

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An Artistic Duet in Second Life

The 22 Art Space: Duet

Currently open at the 22 Art Space in Bellisseria, operated and curated by Ricco Saenz and Randy Firebrand, is a shared exhibition of images by two Second Life photographers – Dutch Ireman and Evie – that is built around the theme of Duet, or pairing. Although as Randy and Ricco explain in the exhibition’s introductory notes, the theme was actually suggested by the art offered by the artists, rather – as is more usually the case – the theme informing the art that is offered:

The concept … was born more or less by chance. At first [we] selected four pictures of each artist’s established production and suggested that Evie and Dutch complete the sets of images in a way that would make some sense to them. The results came with a positive surprise: even if each photographer … provided the gallery with photos that could be arranged in sets of two. In other words, the concept for the exhibition just emerged from that: there were duets – both of pictures and of ways to think of those photographs.

Thus, through the rooms at 22 Art Space, are hung eight images by Dutch and eight by Evie, each artist offering them as complementary pairs (4 pairs from Evie, four from Dutch). The images in each pair are able to stand as both an individual pieces in their own right and as one half of a broader story. Take, for example, Dutch’s Connecting and Connected, located on the upper floor of the gallery. Each offers a statement on human connectedness that can be appreciated in its own right; but they also stand together as a pair of images that give a wholeness to that theme of connectedness and connection.

The 22 Art Space: Duet

Given that each artist was given free reign over how they took the four images initially selected by Ricco and Randy and added to them to offer a selection for the exhibition, that both Evie and Dutch both independently arrived at the idea of pairing off their images (rather than simply adding and additional four, either randomly or based along a single collective theme) is genuinely intriguing. It also speaks to an interesting harmony between their individual approaches to the the exhibition that further this idea of  duet: their individual voices as photographers coming together in unison in how they present their pieces as individual pairings.

And just as a duet can comprise contrasting harmonies and  / or voices working together through the combined singing of different lyrics or one offering the melody, the other a descant around it, so too does Duet. Evie, for example, presents images that largely have darker backdrops and /or deeper colours, forming, one might say, a “descant” to the “melody” of Dutch’s work, with its bolder, vibrant mix of colours and backdrop, with both harmonising their their respective use of tone, angles and lighting.

The 22 Art Space: Duet

Completed by various items placed around the gallery that help underpin the idea of duets and pairings – a rug with the yin-yang pattern, a pair of shoes, tennis rackets and balls –  Duets is a small, engaging exhibition that run through until December 11th.

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