Sentences on Magic (after Sol Lewitt)


This text work was written for inclusion on the catalogue to accompany The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art at Tate St Ives. It continues my interest in the relationship between conceptual art and ritual, most especially those forms widely studied by anthropology, such as magic.

Here, Sol LeWitt's seminal work ‘Sentences on Conceptual Art’ (1969) is altered so that every original reference to ‘art’ is replaced with one to ‘magic’, ‘artist’ to ‘magician’ similarly. A couple of other minor changes were also necessary. Despite the fact that the sentences now refer to a quite different activity, they still make sense and offer new insights.

At the Plymouth Arts Centre, the text was installed as a large wall text using vinyl lettering; as the vinyl was the same colour as the wall upon which it was placed, it could not be read directly but only at an angle, thereby appearing and disappearing with the actions of the reader, as if a spell.

The text was also included in Magic (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art, 2021), edited by Jamie Sutcliffe.