Featuring Jonathan Allen, Archive (Anne Walsh & Chris Kubik), 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.
For some, the idea of magic suggests fantasy and illusion, while for others it signals a license to practice deception. This new exhibition considers how art and magic often share common ground, and how some contemporary artists adopt the perception-shifting tactics of the theatrical magician to influence the viewer and explore the power of suggestion.
Magic Show features work by 24 international artists, with new commissions and performances and an archive of historical posters, curious props and off-beat ephemera from the world of theatrical magic. The exhibition demonstrates how art and magic both flourish in the grey area between fact and fiction, and considers the potential of trickery and illusion to undermine logical thought.
The Los Angeles-based Center for Tactical Magic’s ‘Ultimate Jacket’ (designed for ‘private investigators, magicians and ninjas’) has 50 pockets for optimum concealment and retrieval and will be worn by our gallery assistants. Susan Hiller’s ‘Homage to Yves Klein’ incorporates found photographs of people levitating, ranging from the low-tech sham to highly sophisticated ruse; while ‘Failing to Levitate’ documents Bruce Nauman’s similar attempts to get off the ground. Sinta Werner’s site-specific installations mimic architectural features in the gallery to distort space and trick your eye.
The archive section includes magician Paul Kieve’s collection of historical posters from theatrical magic’s ‘Golden Era’ (c1890-1930) that play up to the idea of the magician as princely commander of unearthly forces. And you can also marvel at a ‘card finding duck’, a staple of TV magicians of the 1970s, belonging to Tommy Cooper.
Magic Show is a Hayward Touring Exhibition from the Southbank Centre, curated by artist Jonathan Allen and writer Sally O’Reilly.