Diana Thater: Between Science and Magic at the Santa Monica Museum of Art

The Santa Monica Museum of Art presents Diana Thater: Between Science and Magic. Working in film, video, and installation, Diana Thater has been an innovator in her medium for 20 years and is best known for creating complex visual and spatial environments. Between Science and Magic is a simple, and beautiful, interpretation of “movie magic”—a century-old expression that still conjures the mythology of Hollywood filmmaking. Diana Thater: Between Science and Magic opens on January 16 and continues through April 17, 2010.

Thater’s new and innovative piece recreates, and repositions, a seminal moment in Los Angeles history, when downtown LA was being dreamed into a gilded metropolis and a theater district was built to rival New York’s Great White Way. Between Science and Magic is filmed in the famed Los Angeles Theatre, one of the most elaborate of the movie palaces built between 1911 and 1931 on Los Angeles’s now-defunct “theater row”. Renowned magician Greg Wilson was filmed on a white stage. This film was then projected and re-filmed within the sumptuous old theater; thus, the viewer will experience a palpable tension between past and present.

Dressed in a classic top hat and tails, the magician repeatedly performs an archetypal magic trick—pulling a rabbit out of a hat—while the action is filmed from every angle by two cameras projected onto a split screen in an attempt to reveal how the magic trick is done. The scene is captured in tones of black, white, and grey; only the magician’s skin tone and the rabbit’s eyes have a trace of color.

A pioneering filmmaker, Thater’s work is held in many public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at such prestigious institutions as the Vienna Secession; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Kunsthalle Basel; and The Renaissance Society, Chicago. Most recently, Thater’s gorillagorillagorilla—a poignant study of human and animal behavior—was premiered at the Kunsthaus Graz, in collaboration with the Museum of Natural History in London, to celebrate the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth. Between Science and Magic is Thater’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in over 10 years.

Between Science and Magic is a new work commissioned by the Santa Monica Museum of Art with support from David Zwirner New York and Hauser & Wirth London.

Diana Thater: Between Science and Magic is organized by the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Support for the exhibition is generously provided by The Broad Art Foundation, The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, and The Suzanne Nora Johnson and David Gordon Johnson Foundation.

SMMoA is located at Bergamot Station, Building G1, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, California. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Sundays, Mondays, and all legal holidays. Suggested donation: $5; $3 for seniors and students. For further information about exhibitions and programs, please call 310.586.6488 or visit www.smmoa.org