Conversation with Jonathan Allen and James Brown at ICA. London 2015.
A pickpocket is someone who knows and takes advantage of the limitations in our brain´s perception, with the only purpose of steeling our possessions. And he does it in front of our eyes, while we are awake.
Thoughout history, there are continuous links between the role of magicians, thiefs and artists.
For the event "Learning from a pickpocket" a environment was set up for a open conversation with artist/curator/magic historian Jonathan Allen and magician James Brown in other to discuss the relationship between pickpocketing, magic and art practice.
Magic is used to create an illusion that can challenge the perception of the spectator and render him uncertain. Applying magic to art practice that engages with social and political phenomena has the potential to provoke critical spectatorship.
Jonathan Allen is a London-based artist and writer whose work has featured in many exhibitions and publications in the UK and internationally since the early 1990’s. His work has featured recently in Truth is Concrete - A Handbook for Artistic Strategies in Real Politics (2014), Notes on The Magic of the State (2013), and Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine (2012). Allen is an associate curator at The Magic Circle Museum, London, and in 2009 co-curated the Hayward Gallery touring exhibition Magic Show with the writer Sally O'Reilly.
James Brown is a magician, pickpocket and hypnotist, who has spent the last twenty years developing his understanding of psychology and human behavior. He has explored the relations between magic and perceptional psychology, combining contemporary sleight of hand magic with theatrical pickpocketing and suggestion hypnosis.
His practice includes performing sleight of hand, consulting for institutes like Imperial College London and teaching hypnotherapists advance hypnosis skills. He has been awarded Best Close Up Magician in UK by the Magic Circle.
We did learn how to steal a wallet and how the limitations in our perceptions can play to our advantage, understanding those limitations as potential spaces to generate knowledge.
The Conjurer. Attributed to painter Hieronymus Bosch or his workshop, executed around 1502.