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26.9.04

The Play of Illusion

Eyes, Lies and Illusions
Laurent Mannoni, Werner Nekes, Marina Warner, Eyes, Lies and Illusions: The Art of Deception (Lund Humphries)
In an article (The desert of the real, September 25) for The Guardian, Marina Warner previews an upcoming exhibit—Eyes, Lies and Illusions (October 7, 2004, to January 3, 2005) at the Hayward Gallery in London—for which she is curatorial adviser.
In the medieval Christian tradition, the devil is a mimic, an actor, a performance artist, and he imitates the wonders of nature and the divine work of creation. Unlike God, he can only conjure visions as illusions, as he did when, in the person of Mephistopheles, he summoned the pageant of the deadly sins for Doctor Faustus and then seduced him with the appearance of Helen of Troy. The Devil summons images in the mind's eye, playing on desires and weaknesses; the word "illusion" comes from ludere, "to play" in Latin. Conjurors mimic his tricks: an early Christian Father, denouncing magicians, gives a vivid account of the lamps and mirrors or basins of water they used, how they even conjured the stars by sticking fish scales or the skins of sea horses to the ceiling.
That is the same Marina Warner, Novelist and Mythographer, whom I came to know through her books on the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc. From her introduction, I would say that this exhibit is likely to be quite interesting.

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