M.E.D.I.U.M: SEERious Sideshow
MEDIUM was invited to perform at the closing reception of "Dr Soane's Odditorium of Wonders" at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. The exhibition, curated by Jane Edmunson, recreated a dime museum using contemporary art and historic oddities. The event occured September 12, 2013, 4pm - 7pm, and MEDIUM performed in the atrium. A beautiful catalogue was produced, written by Edmunson, an exerpt of which appears below.
M.E.D.I.U.M. (acronym for “Metaphysical Explorations, Divinations and Investigations Utilizing Magic”) is a quartet of artist-mystics comprised of magician Frater Tham, “trailer park psychic” Char Latan, Eastern European psychic Madame Symona, and pseudoscientist Dr. I.M. Auftenhauzie, who mark the closing of the Odditorium with the erection of three circus tents in the large public space adjacent to the gallery. Their performances are a collision of shyster carnival and contemporary art practice, complete with séances, sin eating, captured faeries in bell jars, prophetic readings of Turkish coffee grounds, and demonstrations of quack medical technologies.
While seeking out futures determined by ancient numerology, or peering deeply into ascrying mirror, visitors may hear the distant ringing of a spirit bell, announcing the arrival of presences unseen. Brainwaves can be enhanced by Auftenhauzie’s “Zenco Electroplasmic Neuroactivity Stimulator”. Amidst this presentation of superstition, spiritualism, junk science, and the paranormal, visitors are left to debate the veracity of what they’re being shown; is this a sly, art-insider joke? Are M.E.D.I.U.M.’s resident mystics pulling one over on the visitor, and if so, would that make it any less fun? How seriously are participants meant to receive a fortune that is delivered via country-western ballad?
Each spooky interaction with whispered clairvoyance or otherworldly ectoplasm is countered by sleight of hand tricks and framed portraits of the Sacred Heart of Elvis Presley. In the brief moment of initial encounter, where excitement, inquisition, amusement, and goosebumps meet, M.E.D.I.U.M. holds sway over the visitor – the spectacle contains indulgent play and surprises that are not often found in “serious” contemporary art spaces. Whether the experience is held as genuine or faked, M.E.D.I.U.M.’s careful navigation of the line between legitimacy and hoax gifts the visitor with the agency to arrive at their own conclusions .
- Jane Edmunson, "Dr. Soane's Odditorium of Wonders" exhibition catalogue exerpt