Archetypal narratives bubble beneath the surface in Wendy Given’s demure, fantastic works, offering a hidden strata of meanings to viewers enticed by her interpretations of potential magic. Given embeds and collages story into image and sculpture from every corner of the supernatural map, referencing in this exhibition everything from Alice In Wonderland, to Yeti, to the medieval witch craze that plagued northern Europe. Aiming to produce work that “resonates in the deep, dark and unstable ground between consciousness and collective memory,” Given hopes that this mash-up reflects modern culture’s mode of assimilating and processing myth. While her subject matter dwells on the archaic, her aesthetic, reflected especially in her clean, crisp and processed C‑print photography, is distinctively contemporary.
How To Explain Magic to a Dead Rabbit, named after Joseph Beuys’ 1965 performance How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, is an exploration into recognizable fairy tales and legends as a means to excavating and applying their remaining root values, humor and beauty to our mundane existence. These photos and sculptures include remnants of the performances and rituals Given underwent to transfer her curiosities about her supernatural subjects into the artworks. In this, her works have an air of convincing documentary, as if the artist spied on that which remains unseen to average passersby. Part amusement park, part rare glimpse into secret, charmed territory, Given predicts a new approach to observing what she calls the “otherworldly in the everyday.”