Psychic Photos at MICA? (The “Sneering and Suspicious” Welcome)

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"The End of Being," Ted Serios

Though she does not consider herself a religious person, former school teacher Athalyn Rose says she believes that “miraculous” images of the apocalypse have appeared to her, and she’s got proof. Chicago bellhop Ted Serios created beautiful abstract photographs or “thoughtographs” he swore up and down he’d produced by psychic thought rather than camera tricks. Separately, some people believe that ghosts have actually been captured on film. What do all of these mystically inclined individuals have in common, beyond the Theremin soundtrack that’s probably repeat-playing in their brains? Beginning this Friday evening at MICA, all above-mentioned evidence of otherworldly interplay will be on exhibit in Baltiomore. The show, “Materializations: Uncanny Images,” curated by MICA Humanistic Studies professor Mikita Brottman kicks off Friday evening with a gallery talk on psychic photography by UMBC professor Mark Alice Durant. Athalyn Rose will be on hand to discuss her book, Coming out of the Dark: Miraculous Biblical Painting. Where/when below:

MICA, Rosenberg Gallery, Brown Center, 2nd Floor
Reception & gallery talk Friday, March 8, 5-7 p.m. (On display March 1-17.)

Viewers can also enjoy spooky sound compositions by MICA student Olya Androsik: “The Transit of Venus” and “Rapture,” playing alongside “The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society Dream-films” by artist Zoe Beloff.

I talked to Brottman about the material’s attraction for her.

As the organizer/curator, why are you drawn to the work of these two makers?

Neither artist would identify themselves as the “maker” of their images, just the vessel or conduit through which they appear. That’s what makes the works so interesting to me –it’s art without an artist, where the “art” is made by something other than skill or design — by fate, accident, chance, divine intervention, whatever you believe. It goes against most people’s sense of what’s usually meant by the term “art” — which is why some people are sneering and suspicious about it.

Do you believe that these psychic photographs are possibly legit?

I want to say that it doesn’t matter how they were created – what matters are the images themselves, their spooky aura. But the fact is, what makes them so interesting is the back story. Some think Ted Serios was a charlatan; others believe he had an extraordinary ability to capture mental images on film — an ability that no tools, tests or machines can measure or document. Either way, the images, however they were produced, are shady, alluring, mysterious. They make you think.

And have you ever met an actual psychic?

How do we tell the charlatan from the genuine psychic? What if a
charlatan sometimes tells the truth?

General gallery hours:
Monday through Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Sunday, noon-5pm
Closed holidays

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