There’s an easy link to be made between this exhibition and How much of this is fiction at FACT in Liverpool: both interrogate questions of reality, truth and authority. However, where How much of this is fiction has a particularly political bent, Ruse at The Holden Gallery is focused on the use of illusion, diversion and transformation to manipulate people and things more generally. Take Clare Strand’s Conjurations, a series of four films depicting women performing commonplace magic tricks on a loop; capitalising on the expectation of deception that we have when it comes to magic, Conjurations instead invokes the mystery of how a trick is done.
Bridget Smith’s photographs, meanwhile, re-stage our understanding of space, photographing familiar environments of escape (such as a cinema, theatre and pleasure resort) into images that echo the sea, the movement of waves and a bygone era. The ‘trick’ here is that environments usually associated with fantasy, imagination and escapism themselves become transformed. Also on display is the complete series of Outrageous Fortune Tarot Cards, a reinterpretation by 78 contemporary artists of the classic Tarot de Marseille deck of cards – associated with both card games, tricks and fortune telling. Together, the five lead artists who make up Ruse present a compelling argument: that ideas of reality are only a matter of belief.