Magic Show, a mixed-media exhibition with work by 24 contemporary artists, demonstrated how visual artists adopt the perception-shifting tactics of the theatrical magician.
Magic for some suggests fantasy and illusion; for others it signals a licence to practice deception. Curated by artist, writer and sometime magician, Jonathan Allen, and writer Sally O'Reilly, Magic Show considered both these approaches, taking fiction and trickery to be intertwined, historically prevalent and culturally pivotal.
The exhibition showed how artists use the conjurer’s tactics to explore questions of creative agency, the power of suggestion, and the fragility of belief.
It also illustrated how, using these tactics, artists summon wonderment whilst simultaneously performing critique, and revealed how strategic illusion and misdirection can be employed in more ominous contexts, such as political dictatorship.
Magic Show included major new commissions as well as a live performance programme, film screenings and a catalogue with essays by both curators.
Jonathan Allen, Archive (Chris Kubik & Anne Walsh), Zoë Beloff, Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer, Joan Brossa, Rick Buckley, Brian Catling, Center for Tactical Magic, Jackie & Denise Chapwoman, Tom Friedman, Brian Griffiths, Colin Guillemet, João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Susan Hiller, Alexandra Hopf, Christian Jankowski, Janice Kerbel, Annika Lundgren, Juan Muñoz, Bruce Nauman, Ian Saville, Ariel Schlesinger, Suzanne Treister and Sinta Werner.
This exhibition toured to the following venues:
28 November 2009 - 31 January 2010
Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool
13 February - 10 April 2010
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle
15 May - 4 July 2010
31 July - 12 September 2010
Pump House Gallery, London
6 October - 19 December 2010