Magic Shop, 2002
Magic Shop, 2002
Blinking slowly in the gallery window, Jonathan Allen’s magic shop sign acknowledges not only the white cube’s capacity to conceptually shape-shift to accommodate art’s constant re-definition, but also its more uncertain role as purveyor of unquantifiable goods and suspect wonders.
- Carol Maund, director of Site Gallery, Sheffield, Con Art catalogue essay
Jonathan Allen’s neon sculpture Magic Shop suggests a relationship between the persuasive power of commercial advertising and – in the artist’s words – magic’s capacity to ‘conjure consent’. In The Act of Magic, the work is positioned in relation to artworks that focus on the ambiguous relationship between magic and technology. In a world where consumer electronics have become so complex we can hardly understand them, and where they seemingly have acquired magical properties due to their networked and/or automated functioning, the question remains what ‘magic’ exactly one buys into when purchasing these goods.
Jonathan Allen (UK)
Jonathan Allen is a visual artist and writer based in London. In his practice he explores the politics of enchantment and various magics at play within late modernity. His work has been exhibited recently at Ryan Lee Gallery (New York, 2016), Stanley Picker Gallery (London, 2016) and MASS MoCA (USA, 2016-17). Allen’s recent writing has featured in Truth is Concrete – A Handbook For Artistic Strategies in Real Politics (Sternberg Press, 2014), Notes on The Magic of the State (Lisson Gallery & Beirut, 2013) and Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine (Cabinet Books, 2012). Allen is a curator at The Magic Circle Museum, London, where in 2013 he rediscovered a forgotten tarot deck hand-painted in 1906 by the English artist and mystic Austin Osman Spare. His subsequent book Lost Envoy is published by Strange Attractor Press (2016). In 2009 he initiated and co-curated the Hayward Gallery touring exhibition Magic Show.