Seer (Alice II)

2005
White auto body paint on bronze
161 x 183 x 104 cm
Edition of 3

Since the nineties, Smith has been incorporating fairy–tale imagery into her work to depict dramatic female personae and alter egos. Through her sculptures and drawings, Smith gives physical bodies to the abstract female bearers of social doctrine, ranging from the Virgin Mary to Little Red Riding Hood, who populate our cultural mythology. Seer (Alice II) is one in a series of works derived from Lewis Carroll’s own manuscript drawings for the children’s book Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (commonly known as Alice in Wonderland). This piece refers to the tale of Alice, who swims in a pool of her own tears, providing Smith with fertile imagery to continue her exploration of femininity and bodily fluids present in her early works.

Smith is interested in the process of taking a specific character from a narrative, such as Alice and transposing her to another setting, where she remains recognisable, but takes on another life, exemplified by Seer (Alice II). Smith intended this piece to be placed near the water, where its subject could be read as a seer gleaning information from the water, one moment at a time, placing her hands in the liquid like an oracle. Additionally, the setting of the English countryside evokes the original setting of the story of Alice in Wonderland.

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About The Artist


Kiki Smith has been known since the 1980s for her multidisciplinary practice relating to the human condition and the natural world. She uses a broad variety of materials to continuously expand and evolve a body of work that includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing and textile. Smith grew up helping her father, American Minimalist sculptor Tony Smith, produce cardboard models for his geometric sculptures, an experience which helped cultivate Smith’s awareness of process and formalism. The human form, especially the female body, became central to Smith’s work in the eighties. She began to focus on themes of loss and death through her depiction of the body’s internal components, especially organs, cellular structures and the nervous system. The evacuation of these physiological components from the body presented anxieties surrounding the maternal body and the notion of the body as a receptacle for incorporeal components such as knowledge, belief and storytelling. By exposing its internal structures, Smith portrays the dichotomy between the psychological and physiological power of the body. In recent years, Smith’s work has evolved to incorporate animals, domestic objects and narrative tropes from classical mythology and folk tales.

Kiki Smith

Born: 1954