Red Queen to Play is the sixth exhibition in The Alice Sequence. The central theme of the “Alice Project” evolved from an anxious awareness of environmental melt down. The project focuses on the other-than-human animal and the interface between humans and animals. Lewis Carroll’s two texts, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, provide a conduit for Cruise’s research and exploration of these themes. “Alice in Wonderland” was the first book the artist read as a child and has thus been part of her since the inception of her conscious self.
Red Queen to Play has less to do with the animals than the human at the centre of the catastrophe. Unlike the other exhibitions the animal other has been displaced to the margins. The Borogoves (2015) – other-worldy presences in the form of freely-modelled clay heads of baboons, birds, cats, rats, pigs and humans – stare out from built-in cabinets on the walls towards Cradle II (2014–2015) – piles of clay babies contained in perspex boxes. The babies are armless, signifying a universal helplessness.
Also looking on are 24 figures informed by chess pieces that allude to the fact that, while on the other side of the looking glass, Alice was a pawn in a giant chess game. She encounters animated chess pieces including the Red and White Queens. The Red Queen being a recurring tyrannical figure in the chaotic, upside-down dream world that Alice finds herself in.