In esoteric traditions, the mirror does not just reflect back an image of the self. It is understood as an instrument of vision through which inspiration and knowledge may be gained. The occult, with its constant questioning of theories of perception and notions of the self and subjectivity, has been at the centre of counter-cultures and avant-gardes since the first esoteric revival at the end of the nineteenth century.
Since the beginnings of modernism, artists have used esoteric, magical and occult philosophies as sources of inspiration. They have written and theorised about them, and made them central elements of their practice. But these aspects have been marginalised by a critical culture that emphasizes ‘truth to the materials’ and negates any examination of the role of the spiritual and esoteric in the making of art.
Black Mirror seeks to redress this imbalance and examine ways in which the occult and the esoteric have been at the heart of art practice now and throughout the modernist period. It is part of a growing movement that seeks to critique the dominant twentieth-century notion of disenchantment, and that rejects notions of the esoteric and occult as irrational, escapist, regressive and essentially anti-modern.
In addition to presenting new research on the modernist period, Black Mirror will consider especially work being made by artists, film-makers and other practitioners today. Black Mirror is produced by a group of artists and researchers and much of the work that we will showcase will be practice-led.
In collaboration with AUB and NYU Steinhardt, Fulgur will issue a series of twelve volumes that seek to explore these themes.
Judith Noble (Plymouth College of Art)
Dominic Shepherd (AUB)
Jesse Bransford (NYU Steinhardt)
Robert Ansell (Fulgur)