Magical Consciousness

Curated by Runa Islam and Arnolfini
Arnolfini, Bristol, U.K.
11 May 11 — July 2, 2011

Helena Almeida, Rosa Barba, Uta Barth, Angela Bulloch, Mariana Castillo Deball, Ula Dajerling, Matias Faldbakken, Ellen Harvey, John Hilliard, William E. Jones, Onkar Kular & Noam Toran, David Maljkovic, Melik Ohanian, Trevor Paglen, Peter Peri, Rosângela Rennó and Mungo Thomson.

Magical Consciousness is about considering when images are no longer enough. It is a group exhibition developed in collaboration with the renowned artist-filmmaker Runa Islam that looks for the potential that comes out of denying or abstracting images. This exhibition considers the possibility of seeing yourself seeing things differently.

Magical Consciousness presents works by a selection of artists who look for images at the edges of perception. Rosângela Rennó’s video Rosa Vera, 2001, gets its first presentation in the UK – an ‘impossible film’ without imagery documenting the arrival of the first Portuguese settlers in Brazil. Ellen Harvey’s Collection of Impossible Subjects, 2008, an interpretation of a salon-style museum etched onto a large mirror-wall, displays elaborate frames but with the images replaced with glowing light. Historic conceptual works include Helena Almeida’s sequence of photographs Inhabited Painting, 1976, in which she paints herself out of the image using International Klein Blue.

Magical Consciousness is titled in reference to the work of philosopher Vilém Flusser, who suggested that there is more potential to touch reality in the act of looking itself rather than in what is actually being looked at or through using descriptive text, because of the latent potential of the viewer’s imagination.

The Museum of Failure, 2008

A hand-engraved rear-illuminated mirror (The Collection of Impossible Subjects) depicts a museum wall hung salon-style with empty frames, with one frame opening onto a trompe l’oeil painting (Invisible Self-Portrait in My Studio) based on a flash photograph of an identically installed and framed collection of mirrors reflecting the artist working on the painting. A Polaroid of the artist’s 28-year old copy of the Uffizi Gallery guide is installed nearby. The image on the cover is of Johann Zoffany’s The Tribune of the Uffizi, which inspired the red walls and gold frames of the painted part of the installation.