From Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art


Edited by Jamie Sutcliffe

The first accessible reader on magic's generative relationship with contemporary art practice.




The first accessible reader on magic's generative relationship with contemporary art practice.

This volume brings together for the first time writings by artists, magicians, historians, and theorists that illuminate the vibrant correspondences between contemporary art and magical consciousness. From the hexing of presidents to a renewed interest in herbalism and atavistic forms of self-care, magic furnishes the contemporary imagination with complex bodies of arcane thought that have inspired artists to reconsider the relationship between the symbolic and the pragmatic.

Dispensing with simple narratives of re-enchantment, Magic illustrates the intricate ways in which we have to some extent always been captivated by the allure of the numinous, and shows how magical culture's tendencies toward secrecy, occlusion, and encryption have provided contemporary artists with strategies of remedial communality, a renewed faith in the invocational power of personal testimony, and a poetics of practice that boldly questions socially sanctioned techniques of medical and psychiatric care. Magic deciphers the evolution of a “magical-critical” thinking that necessarily complicates and contradicts the boundaries of a capitalist-realist malaise.

Artists surveyed include

Morehshin Allahyari, Sofia Al-Maria, Kenneth Anger, Wallace Berman, Annie Besant, A.A. Bronson, Elijah Burgher, Leonora Carrington, Ian Cheng, Ithell Colquhoun, Maya Deren, Benedict Drew, Mary Beth Edelman, Barbara Hammer, David Hammons, Susan Hiller, Cameron Jamie, Derek Jarman, Travis Jeppesen, Mike Kelley, Mark Leckey, Ana Mendieta, Henri Michaux, Jeremy Millar, Elizabeth Mputu, Katrina Palmer, Holly Pester, Tabita Rezairre, Harry Smith, Austin Osman Spare, Linda Stupart, Jenna Sutela, Saya Woolfalk, Zadie Xa, Matsuzawa Yutaka

Writers include

Emily LaBarge, Peter Bebergal, Walter Benjamin, Michael Bracewell, Roger Caillois, Lou Cornum, Timothy d'Arch Smith, Erik Davis, Owen Davies, Aria Dean, Allan Doyle, Ramsey Dukes, Deirdre English, Barbara Ehrenreich, Silvia Federici, Dion Fortune, Kristen Gallerneaux, Carlo Ginzburg, Phil Hine, Ronald Hutton, Jeffrey Kripal, Erica Lagalisse, Michel Leiris, Esther Leslie, Patricia MacCormack, Alan Moore, Victoria Nelson, Mark Pilkington, Israel Regardie, Jeffrey Sconce, Louis Chude-Sokei, Starhawk, Michael Taussig, Elvia Wilk, Gary Zhexi Zhang, Jackie Wang


$24.95 T ISBN: 9780262543033 240 pp. | 5.75 in x 8.25 in

Not for sale in Europe or the UK.


Jamie Sutcliffe

Jamie Sutcliffe is a writer, curator, and codirector of Strange Attractor Press. His writings have appeared in Art Monthly, Frieze, Rhizome, and other publications