RUSE: the artfulness of deceit

suzanne-treister-alchemy-the-new-york-times-7-march-2007-2007-web-185x231-portraitRUSE: the artfulness of deceit
20th March – 19th May 2017
(Please note: the gallery will be closed for two weeks at Easter from 10th – 21st April)

Preview: Friday 17th March, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Zoe Beloff, Laurent Grasso, Bridget Smith, Clare Strand, Suzanne Treister

As television has become saturated with its own constructed take on ‘reality’ and news media has become more deeply embroiled in the question of what authenticity might actually mean – the exhibition takes time to explore some of the grey areas between reality and illusion. In some ways, ideas of reality are only a matter of belief, if this is the case, then the points where this is stretched to breaking point become of particular interest. In the world of the magic act, we know we are being tricked by the skill of the performer, the intrigue lies in the way it is done. Outside of the theatrical, where different kinds of deception take place, things are not always so easy to spot.

The exhibition focusses on things that are not quite what they seem. It is based firmly in the realm of the ordinary, but the ways in this might be transformed. This appears through different guises; an interest in the world of illusion, reconfiguring the pages of the mass media, cinema as a device to divert the masses. All of which relates to the desire to manipulate people and things. All of the work reflects on the shifting boundaries between reality, truth and illusion.

  • Zoe Beloff incorporates film into multimedia projects in which the boundaries between historical fact and creative interpretation tend to blur. Dream Films are a series of ten films made by members of The Coney Island Amateur Pyschoanalytic Society, founded in 1926 by Albert Grass. These films—including The Lion Dream, The Praying Mantis, and My Dream of Dental Irritation—are re-enactments of the member’s dreams, and were entered into an annual competition held by the society. For Charming Augustine, Beloff draws on historical records published by the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris in the 1880s, where doctors would use early cinema and motion cameras to unlock secrets of their patients’ minds. Augustine was a young woman, admitted to the hospital in 1875, whose extraordinarily theatrical and photogenic hysterical attacks captivated her doctors.
  • Laurent Grasso’s film Polair documents the dissemination of a pollen cloud that has been affected by electrical and magnetic sources in Berlin. The film surveys iconic architecture in the area that was formerly East Berlin and structures that transmit electromagnetic energy such as the TV Tower and tramway cables. The pollen particles float freely across the cityscape, allowing the invisible electromagnetic waves to appear visible. The faint crackling hum of an electricity field provides the soundtrack to the film.
  • Bridget Smith’s photographs document spaces that are transformed into environments of escape, places that are sought out as a means to be transported away from the banality of everyday life. Odeon (Blue) depicts a traditional 200-seater cinema; the vast top lit curtain which dominates the image lends itself to a theatrical setting, reminiscent of a different age where going to the cinema was a spectacle, and made more of an event. Blueprint for a Sea (rising), employs the use of staggered seating in an auditorium; the curved shapes of the seats and the positioning of the lighting creates the illusion of a wave like formation, mimicking the outlines of waves in the sea. Mechanical Wave is a response to Smith’s experience of growing up near Southend’s pleasure resort. The installation of two synced videos depicts a coin pusher working in a repetitive motion, but not quite pushing the coins forward enough. This hypnotic movement also alludes to the continuous motion of the waves found at the seafront.
  • Clare Strand’s photography and films test our ability to read imagery in the world of the everyday, by evoking mystery and the absurd, often in the form of parlour magic, paranormal activity, and pseudo-scientific experiments. Conjurations are four films depicting four women performing very familiar, commonplace magic tricks, which are looped to allow the trick to be executed again and again. The theme of deception and the intangible resonates in Skirts, where Strand draws attention to the simple table cloth. The series of ten photographs present a typology of tables, each dressed in a monotone tablecloth suitable for a formal ceremony, or magician’s show. Their stark appearance leaves an anticipatory tension in the viewer, as if a performance is about to take place.
  • Suzanne Treister presents a collection of works from the Alchemy series, a project she began in 2007 by extracting images and text from the front pages of international daily newspapers and transforming them into alchemical drawings. Treister restages the world as it is perceived in the press by integrating symbols of alchemy, powers and belief systems into the front pages of The New York Times, The Guardian and Die Welt. The content is reorganised into shapes and formations which appear like formulaic maps that unlock and expose a deeper meaning subliminal to the text of the original newspaper.

Ruse will also include the complete series of Outrageous Fortune Tarot Cards, a project which entailed seventy-eight contemporary artists reinterpreting the classic Tarot de Marseille deck of cards. Although used as playing cards throughout Europe since the 15th century, in the English-speaking world the tarot is generally associated with divination and fortune telling.

Admission Free

Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday 12 – 6pm,
Open late on Thursdays until 7pm.

Holden Gallery
Curator: Steven Gartside
Assistant Curator: Zoe Watson

For further details and any press images and enquiries contact Zoe Watson:, 0161 247 1072.
Twitter: @HoldenGallery