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Cindy Baker: Examining the To-do over Ta-da

Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina May 10 to Jul 13 2008
Cindy Baker  “Gimmick”  2008  Installation view Cindy Baker “Gimmick” 2008 Installation view

Cindy Baker “Gimmick” 2008 Installation view

There are surprising similarities between art and magic. Artists are, after all, conjurors of sorts, empowering static materials and media with new forms and meanings. And while popular magicians rely on combining secret sleight of hand with outward mastery of showmanship, it can be argued that good artists are equally adept performers who parlay the creative act into works that engage and provoke the wonder (and, at times, bafflement) of an audience.

Saskatoon artist Cindy Baker explores these and other art-magic parallels in “Gimmick,” an exhibition of sculptural arrangements based on magic shop props. From a trick top hat to a mystery cabinet in which magicians’ assistants are sawn in half (and then restored), Baker’s presentations are less concerned with the spectacle of illusion than with the latent expectations embedded in these magical items. As she writes, “Gimmicks without the magician, without an instruction manual, are deflated, impotent objects.” By placing these items out of context without an “interpreter” to provide the necessary deception, Baker redirects attention to basic notions of truth, trickery and the entertainment value of real versus simulated experience. (6121 Rochdale Blvd, Regina SK)

This article was first published online on May 15, 2008.

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