New exhibition conjures the art of witchcraft, ritual and power

Inexplicable occurrences, the supernatural, sexual power and the potency of the natural world are among ideas explored by artists in a new exhibition opening at UQ Art Museum on 1 March.

Second Sight: Witchcraft, Ritual, Power features renowned historical etchings alongside contemporary artworks and new commissions depicting or disrupting ‘witch iconography’ and impressions of witchcraft.

UQ Art Museum Associate Director Dr Holly Arden said the ‘witch’ as an aged and hideous crone or seductive, yet menacing icon had been problematic for women across nations and generations.

“This exhibition provides an artistic inquiry into an often maligned figure – the witch – while also offering diverse voices and representations of ritual and innate power,” Dr Arden said.

“Historical European artworks provide an anchor for the visual origins of certain common narratives about witchcraft and are simultaneously displaced by contemporary works which emphasise gendered, personal and cross-cultural experiences.”

Second Sight: Witchcraft, Ritual, Power has been developed by UQ Art Museum in partnership with Dr Charlotte-Rose Millar, Dr Daniel Midena and Associate Professor Anna Johnston from UQ’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities.

Dr Millar said the exhibition brought together artists, early modern historians and anthropologists to explore the historical underpinnings and artistic interpretations of witchcraft, along with colonial and anthropological constructions.

“Second Sight presents a range of perspectives on sorcery, witchcraft and ritual, as well as both the continuities and ruptures between past understandings of witchcraft and magic, and contemporary artists’ use of that material,” Dr Millar said.

“The term ‘second sight’ has a particular kind of provenance in magical knowing, and we encourage visitors to be open to all possibilities as they take a ‘second look’ and challenge the many stereotypes and assumptions around witchcraft and magic.”

Second Sight: Witchcraft, Ritual, Power runs from 1 March until 29 June at UQ Art Museum. Entry is free.

Image: Naomi Blacklock, Padma 2018, performance documentation from NETHERWORLDS exhibition, Spring Hill Reservoir, Brisbane, 9 June 2018. Photo: Charlie Hillhouse, courtesy of the artist.

A list of participating artists and event information can be found here.

Download images for print and web here.

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