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Exhibition Considers how Art and Magic often Share Common Ground
Bruce Nauman, "Failing to Levitate in the Studio", 1966. Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2009.

LONDON.- For some, the idea of magic suggests fantasy and illusion, while for others it signals a license to practice deception. Magic Show, a Hayward touring exhibition organised in collaboration with QUAD, (Derby’s new centre for art and film), 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. The exhibition premieres at QUAD then embarks on a national tour to Blackpool, Carlisle, Cardiff and London.

"Magic Show", curated by artist Jonathan Allen and writer Sally O'Reilly, includes 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, where the audience is not sure whether to believe their own eyes, and considers the potential of trickery and illusion to undermine the logical thought. Artists include Joan Brossa, Tom Friedman, Christian Jankowski, Janice Kerbel, Juan Muňoz, Ian Saville and Suzanne Treister.

Among the artists and works in the exhibition are the Los Angeles-based Center for Tactical Magic’s "Ultimate Jacket", designed for ‘private investigators, magicians and ninjas’, which has 50 pockets for optimum concealment and retrieval and will be worn by the 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 within the gallery to distort space and trick the viewer.

Highlights of the archive section include 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 the princely commander of unearthly forces and a card finding duck, a staple of TV magicians of the 1970s, belonging to Tommy Cooper.

Magic Show Artists: 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, Janice Kerbel, Christian Jankowski, Annika Lundgren, Juan Muñoz, Bruce Nauman, Ian Saville, Ariel Schlesinger, Suzanne Treister, Sinta Werner

The show opens at QUAD, Derby (November 28 – January 31) and tours to Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (February 13 – April 10, 2010), Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle (May 15 – July 4, 2010), Chapter, Cardiff (July 30 – September 12, 2010) and Pump House Gallery, London (DATES TBC).

Exhibition opening event: Friday November 27, 2009 at 6:30pm - 8:30pm, with a performance by Ian Saville. Ian Saville presents his socialist magic and ventriloquism. Whereas David Copperfield is content with little tricks like making the Statue of Liberty disappear, Ian Saville aims at the much more ambitious goal of making international capitalism and exploitation disappear. See him transform the prevailing conditions, if only for a little while.

QUAD | Magic Show | Jonathan Allen | Sally O'Reilly |

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