The World Premiere of the Teiger Award-winning Exhibition Smoke and Mirrors: Magical Thinking in Contemporary Art

mponderable, (film still) by Tony Oursler (5-D feature length film, 90 minutes).
mponderable, (film still) by Tony Oursler (5-D feature length film, 90 minutes).

Preview Days Exclusively for Museum Members: November 15, 16 and 17

Opens to the General Public on November 18 through May 12

As South Florida’s museums from Palm Beach to Miami present their highly anticipated offerings for Art Basel Season, the Boca Raton Museum of Art is especially poised to lead the pack with a one-two-punch this year: the world premiere of the Teiger Award-winning exhibition Smoke and Mirrors: Magical Thinking in Contemporary Art, and the sleek new high-speed rail station just blocks from the Museum’s front door, luring visitors with a quick escape off the beaten path from the art fairs.

The new group show was originated by Kathleen Goncharov, the Museum’s Senior Curator, and features 30 contemporary artists.

This is the only exhibition in South Florida (and in the entire Southeast U.S.) to win the prestigious Teiger Foundation 2023 Grant Award for Curator-Led Projects – among only 13 museum shows selected nationwide in the Single Exhibition category,recognizing boundary-pushing curatorial work.

The works in this exhibition crack through the looking glass of illusion and beliefs. While performative magic is certainly celebrated here, many of these artists are acclaimed for tackling the thorny issues of disinformation, hoaxes, cults, conspiracy theories, “alternative facts,” and the rise of deceptive artificial technologies in our culture.

When exposed, these deepfakes often reveal a greater truth.

According to the Teiger Foundation site, the competition “Acknowledges the uncertainty, fear, and loss in our time of enormous change and supports innovative curatorial work committed to experimentation and creativity in exhibitions, championing curators who engage in the pressing conversations of our time. Curators are thinkers and leaders who play multiple, changing roles in their communities.”


The exhibition is anchored by an entire gallery of phantasmagorical installations by the globally acclaimed artist Tony Oursler, celebrated for asking the pressing question: what happens when the occult is confronted by its mirror image of technology? 

Among the 30 artists are: Urs Fischer, Alfredo Jaar, Jim Shaw, Sarah Charlesworth, Glenn Kaino, Christian Jankowski, Kristin Lucas, Jane Hammond, Gavin Turk, Michael Ray Charles, Faisal Abdu’Allah, Mark Thomas Gibson, Robin Tewes, Jeanette Andrews, Stephen Berkman, Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), Jacob Hicks, and The Yes Men.

This timely exploration pulls back the curtain on modern-day deceptions, often perpetrated for political or financial gain – before our very eyes.

Today’s hoaxes, and the blatant lies posted on social media, are often fabricated with new technology yet have earlier precedents in America’s history.


The exhibition’s temporal twist juxtaposes parallels between our current struggles and the same peculiar fascinations with magical thinking during the late 1800s and early 1900s – when the deadly flu pandemic and World War I created an epidemic of fake mediums, seances, and the golden age of stage magic.

Fast-forward to today, and these artists investigate how the trauma of our own pandemic, climate change, political extremism, violence, and the disruption of societal norms are spurring belief and fascination with the paranormal.

An explosive increase in supernatural characters in popular culture, and dangerous hoaxes that are proving difficult to discredit, are rampant again now.


“Our City is honored by this national acclaim, and that this museum exhibition is the only one in the entire Southeastern U.S. selected by the Teiger Foundation 2023 Grant Award for Curator-Led Projects in the single exhibition category,” says Scott Singer, the Mayor of Boca Raton. “We are proud of the stellar team at the Boca Raton Museum of Art for shining the national spotlight on South Florida’s museum scene.”


“The caliber of the contemporary artists in this exhibition is earning major attention for the new season at the Boca Raton Museum of Art,” says Irvin Lippman, the Executive Director of the Museum.

“The correlation between magic and artmaking has always loomed large, and this exhibition takes this idea one step further, revealing strong connections between today and earlier periods in history when crises led to magical thinking. Art itself is a process of alchemy, transforming physical medium into illusions of beauty, messages that have the power to both inspire and manipulate audiences,” adds Lippman.

For more information, visit the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

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