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Ingeborg Lüscher
“Please do magic, whatever that may mean for you right now.”
Magician Photos, since 1976

05.03.2022 – 24.04.2022
In collaboration with LLS Paleis

Ingeborg Lüscher was born as Ingeborg Löffler in 1936 in Freiberg (Saxony, Germany). She studied acting in West Berlin and worked in the following years as an actress in the theater and films. In 1959 she married the Swiss color psychologist Max Lüscher, whom she was divorced from in 1967. Since then, she has lived in Tegna, a village near Locarno in the Swiss canton of Ticino. She is an autodidact in visual art.

In 1969 she discovered the hermit and visionary Armand Schulthess, who had set up an open-air encyclopedia in his forest. She documented his work, and in 1972 she was invited by Harald Szeemann to exhibit at documenta 5, which was also the beginning of their lifelong relationship.

Her oeuvre includes many forms of expression such as painting, photography, sculpture, installations, videos, and literature. It deals with themes such as birth and death, the experience of light and darkness, and also political issues.

The series Zaubererfotos / Magician Photos, to which this exhibition is devoted, has been a thread running through her oeuvre since 1976. The series started by chance. As a game. Lüscher was asked to write an essay for a magazine on the subject, but instead of writing she had herself photographed while performing magic.
What the photos showed about her surprised her so much that she wanted to know to what extent this would also be the case with others. That was in 1976, and to this day 522 people have accepted the invitation, “Please do magic, whatever that may mean for you right now.” In the beginning they were friends and relatives, later the circle expanded noticeably and the number of artists also increased. Almost the entire emerging generation of artists who were active from the beginning to the end of the 1980s are featured in the Magician Photos. In the broad sense of the word, these are her contemporaries.

The photo series includes more than just the portrait of the photographed person: we see how the art world develops over time from a "man-oriented" Western affair to a scene where women and artists from various backgrounds are also taken seriously. We see this shift in the second half of the 1990s. In 1997 Lüscher took part in the Lyon Biennale. Numerous colleagues appear in front of her lens, in particular (young) women who exhibited at the Biennale as well as several artists from China. Two years later, in 1999, the Venice Biennale becomes the venue for numerous Magician Photos. In this sense, the photo series has an autobiographical foundation: the locations and dates of the shoot are recorded in many works. A remarkably younger generation is featured in 2004. After 2008, the frequency of the series decreases.

Most of the photos, however, were created in the beautiful garden in Tegna, where the artist has lived and worked since 1967. Many friends and acquaintances who came to visit there chose to shoot in the garden. Because the place where the magic will be performed is also decided by that person themself.

Lüscher formulates her request and does not enter into a discussion. They form a duo, one waiting, the other in a situation of supreme tension, alone, thrown back only on themself.

And that is where the real wonder begins, the magic. There are no more rehearsed smiles, no modelling. What becomes visible here illustrates Beuys’s statement that “every person is an artist.” For each of the 18 photos Lüscher takes, the artist and the subject are in a community of the greatest possible proximity, the clicking of the camera, the sense of what the other is doing, a silent dialogue with one another.

Of the 18 photos, Lüscher selects 9 for her series.

Although large parts of this extensive oeuvre have already been exhibited in various European museums, the Magician Photos have never been seen in Belgium before. Lichtekooi Artspace and LLS Paleis are therefore delighted to exhibit them here for the first time.
The exhibition is an homage to the imagination and creativity of human beings. Ingeborg Lüscher makes this visible in a unique way through this special form of portrait photography.

Stella Lohaus, 2022
Translation: Trevor Perri

Raadpleeg de NL zaaltekst hier

Exh|bition views Lichtekooi:

Exh|bition views LLS Paleis:

Lecture: Ingeborg Lüscher in conversation with Melanie Deboutte on 25.03.22:

Contributors & thanks to

Production team: Jolijn Baeckelandt, Senne Claes, Kris Cuylits, Tom Van Camp, Edith Vandenhoeck, Joke Van den Heuvel and Davide Zulli.

Graphic design: Bram Denkens, Inès Collin and Maarten Enghien

Final editing and translation: Trevor Perri

Catering: Yirka De Brucker

Documentation: Ria Pacqueé, Kim Weynants

Thanks to the artist, Jolijn Baeckelandt, Senne Claes, Yirka De Brucker, Esther De Jonghe, Bram Denkens, Elias Cafmeyer, Inès Collin, Kris Cuylits, Melanie Deboutte, Gwen De Groote, Maarten Enghien, Sid Hanze, Ulrike Lindmayr, Ria Pacquée, Eliam Paris, Trevor Perri, Tom Van Camp, Edith Vandenhoeck, Joke Van den Heuvel, Kim Weynants and Davide Zulli.

With support of Stad Antwerpen and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia