My final paper is about doubles in the Alice books, and I thought I’d share some of my side research on the blog! These are some photos from two separate shoots by two contemporary photographers, Lorenzo Agius (x) and Annie Leibovitz.
This piece by Agius intrigues me! I believe it is a reference to Tweedledum and Tweedledee (I cannot find a caption for it online). If so, this is a really fascinating tribute to the Looking-Glass text:
They were standing under a tree, each with an arm round the other’s neck, and Alice knew which was which in a moment, because one of them had ‘DUM’ embroidered on his collar, and the other ‘DEE.’ ‘I suppose they’ve each got “TWEEDLE” round at the back of the collar,’ she said to herself.
They stood so still that she quite forgot they were alive, and she was just looking round to see if the word “TWEEDLE” was written at the back of each collar, when she was startled by a voice coming from the one marked ‘DUM.’
In “Photographic Wonderland” Franz Meier argues that the Tweedle brothers act as a stand-in for the medium of photography: you cannot see their backs, they are uncanny doubles, and they are so life-like you lose track of whether they are or are not actually alive. Agius’s photograph flips this idea on its head: we see both the back and front of the person depicted.
Annie Leibovitz shot an extensive series of photographs for Vogue, featuring prominent fashion designers posing as Alice characters alongside Natalia Vodianova, who was dressed in the designer’s particular dress design.
What fascinates me about these photographs is the role of the designers — their creations (Alice’s dresses) allow them into the photograph, where in a way they create duplicates of themselves. The photo of Alice with the Tweedle brothers is another interesting take on that aspect of the book: here Alice poses similarly to the brothers, receding into two-dimensional photographic reality. Without Alice to investigate the Tweedle brothers, what happens to them? Do they remain motionless, frozen? This photo raised an interesting possibility for me: if the Tweedle brothers are representative of anxiety about mirrors, photographs, and other objects which capture likeness, perhaps the anxiety specifically concerns what happens to our likenesses when we aren’t around to observe them. Do they vanish? Do they live on as fragments of our faces and selves? Do they become gross distortions of our features and personalities?
I would absolutely love it if you would all contribute your readings of these images! There is so much to say about each of them, that I think it would be fun if I leave off here and let you chime in! 🙂
References and more photographs from these series: