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Abstract image showing a scarecrow with a cow's head and human hands, a person lying down and a pig's head looking upwards.

Black Mirror: Magic in Art (Touring Exhibition)

Curated by Dominic Shepherd and Willem De Bruijn


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Black Mirror: Magic in Art explores the influences and roles of magic, enchantment and the occult in contemporary art and how they function as aesthetic, conceptual and political forces. Through a multi-disciplined curatorial approach of 2D, 3D, film, video and performance art, Black Mirror will showcase the work of fourteen internationally recognised artists.

Modernism was built in the late nineteenth century, we live within its legacy; the same period created the foundations of modern magic as it is practised and understood today. The magical and occult have been much marginalised within the scholarship of twentieth century art, seen in opposition to enlightenment and progressive values. This exhibition challenges this premise, taking fourteen artists whom draw on the magical to propose that enchantment and occult are intertwined with contemporary issues.

Covering a period over the last thirty years a magical aesthetic is intrinsic to an engagement with environmentalism; feminism; gender; post-digital; neo-liberalism and nationalism. Black Mirror is an exhibition where the magical, occult and enchanted are activated as progressive forces that question and direct the flux in this uncertain age.

The exhibition will be available for tour, for enquiries and further information please contact:

Exhibiting Artists

Meet the Curators

Painting of Associate Prof. Dominic Shepherd

Associate Prof. Dominic Shepherd

BA (Hons), MA (Chelsea School Of Art), PGCE Born in England in 1966 Dominic Shepherd studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art at both BA...

Dr Willem de Bruijn

Willem de Bruijn is the course leader for MRes Arts. Willem studied architecture at Delft University of Technology and KTH Stockholm...

Black Mirror Research Network

The Black Mirror Research Network originated at Arts University Bournemouth and explores the influence and roles of magic, the occult and enchantment in modernist and contemporary arts in an international context.

The network is a partnership between AUB, Plymouth College of Art, NYU Steinhardt and publisher Fulgur Esoterica. The network promotes and facilititates publications, exhibitions, conferences and other events. The next Black Mirror event is Seeking the Marvellous: Ithell Colquhoun, British Women and Surrealism, 22 and 23 March 2018 hosted by Plymouth College of Art.

The peer reviewed publication ‘Black Mirror’, soon to launch its third issue Elsewhere, is a platform to articulate and share the remit of the Network. The editors of the Black Mirror publication series are Robert Ansell (Fulgur Esoterica Press), Jesse Bransford (NYU Steinhardt), Merlin Cox (Warburg Institute), Judith Noble (PCA) and Dominic Shepherd (AUB). Many of the thirteen artists in this exhibition have previously appeared in the Black Mirror publication.

A room covered completely (top to bottom, including a fire place) in floral orange wallpaper

Black Mirror

Black Mirror is a research network and institutional collaboration based at Arts University Bournemouth

TheGallery at the Arts University Bournemouth presents as part of Black Mirror: Magic in Art, the documentary, The Ancient Art of Rituals: Palo Mayombe.

In response to the exhibition, staff and students from AUB performed their interpretation of the Palo Mayombe ritual dance that originated in Cuba. The performance was part of The Ancient Art of Rituals event held on 18 January 2018 and has been adapted into an art film showing behind the scenes with the curators and dancers.

The documentary goes into more depth about the ritual dance and its origins and features interviews with each of the dancers and the exhibition organisers. It will be featured on display as a part of the touring exhibition.

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Black Mirror: Magic in Art features works and biographies by the artists participating in the Black Mirror: Magic in Art exhibition hosted by TheGallery, AUB. It also contains an introduction by Dominic Shepherd, which contextualises the work on display; a contribution by Professor Emma Hunt, AUB; and essays by Jesse Bransford and Willem de Bruijn that open up further avenues of investigation into the realm of magic, art and architecture. Not exactly a conventional exhibition catalogue, the publication aims to present a selection of work within a space different from that of the gallery, but equally committed to bringing about thematic connections between the artists and their work.

Black Mirror: Magic in Art
Published by text + work, TheGallery, AUB
2017, Softcover with images
Publication includes contributions by Associate Professor Dominic Shepherd, Willem de Bruin and Professor Emma Hunt
ISBN 978-0-901196-77-4

Available to purchase from TheGallery Office or the AUB online store

Steinhardt - New York University
NYU Steinhart's mission is to advance knowledge, creativity, and innovation at the crossroads of culture, education, and human development with their integration of education, communication, health, and the arts.

Plymouth College of Art
Plymouth College of Art opened in January 1856 with the aim of providing high-quality education for life in contemporary arts practice, as the creative catalyst for personal, professional and cultural transformation.

Fulgur Esoterica
FULGUR is the leading independent publisher of esotericism and magic in visual culture. They work with artists and writers to develop projects that explore ideas of enchantment, relevance and agency.

Charlie Smith London
Charlie Smith London was established in October 2009 with the objective of running an exhibition programme of dedicated one person exhibitions and dynamic curated group shows. Specialising in emerging to mid-career artists, the gallery’s approach is collaborative and curatorial and emphasises work that engages critically with profound human and historical themes.

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