13/02/2010 — 10/04/2010

Magic Show

Colin Guillemet, (Untitled ) Anything but a Rabbit, 2009

(c) the artist 2009

Zoe Beloff, video still from 'A Modern Case of Possession', 2008

courtesy and (c) the artist 2009


A Hayward Touring Exhibition from Southbank Centre

For some, the idea of magic suggests fantasy and illusion, while for others it signals a license to practise deception. Magic Show considers how visual artists often adopt the perception-shifting tactics of the theatrical magician to explore questions of creative agency, the power of suggestion, and the fragility of belief. Artists, like magicians, may manipulate and mystify not simply to entertain, but to redress fundamental relationships within the social, political or cultural realm.


Curated by artist Jonathan Allen and writer Sally O'Reilly, the exhibition 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. 

This Blackpool showing, which will coincide with the Blackpool Magic Convention and Showzam festival, will include an ambitious new work, commissioned by Grundy, from Berlin based artist Sinta Werner whose site-specific architectural interruptions create disorienting and illogical experiences.


Magic Show Artists: Jonathan Allen, Archive (Anne Walsh & Chris Kubik), Zoe 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.


Exhibition Preview Event: Friday 12 February, 3.30pm. Exhibition curators Jonathan Allen and Sally O’Reilly will introduce their ideas behind the exhibition, followed by a performance from Socialist magician Ian Saville.

A richly illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, containing essays by the curators, as well as new writing on the cultural history of magic by Simon During, Brigitte Felderer, Peter Lamont, Pierre Taillefer, Helen Varola and Marina Warner, a fold-out collation of texts and images that explore the relationship between magic, art and power, and an appendix of extracts from André Breton’s L’Art Magique, translated into English here for the first time.


Installation images from Magic Show can be seen here.


The commissioned work by Sinta Werner has been made possible by the generous support of Goethe-Institut, London, ifa, The Henry Moore Foundation, and the National Lottery through Arts Council England.