Whose hand is at work? Mediumistic Art

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David Maclagan

...The recent exhibition at the Halle St. Pierre in Paris, 'Art Spirite, Mediumnique et Visionnaire: Messages d'Outre-Monde' (September 13 1999 to February 27 2000) offered an astonishing spectrum of images, perhaps appropriate for the cusp of a millennium. They ranged from quite specific idealised or demonic apparitions (William Blake, Marie-Jeanne Gil), through crowds of more obscure, phantasmagoric figures, that sometimes barely detached themselves from their background, to almost totally abstract elaborations in which only vestiges of figuration can be detected (Raphael Lonne, Laure Pigeon). The common factor between them was that they had all allegedly been created under a similar form of inspiration: intense, automatic and spontaneous.

These works might represent the result of an altered state of consciousness, such as a mediumistic trance; or the process of creating them might itself induce a trance-like state. So while this inspiration is in many cases prompted by explicit spiritualist beliefs, or by more diffuse allusions to 'spirits', hence justifying the 'other-worldly' reference of its title, in other cases it seems to be a question of spontaneous, abstracted or dissociated mental states that could be accounted for in terms of a more mundane psychology.

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Raw Vision #30