Witchcraft Hysteria: Performing Witchcraft in Contemporary Art and Pop Culture
Lecture with Johanna Braun, UCLA, Los Angeles

Monday, July 16, 2018
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

We seem to be living in bewitched times. Witches are everywhere, or rather: victims of alleged witch hunts pop up all over the place, preferable on Twitter or other social media outlets. Pop-stars perform as witches, like Katy Perry in her performance at the 2014 Grammy awards, where she appeared in a cowl before a crystal ball, while later dancing with broomsticks as poles. Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” (2016) made several explicit references to black witchcraft rituals. Azealia Banks proclaimed on Twitter that she practiced “three years’ worth of brujería” (witchcraft) and tweeted, while cleaning the blood-smeared room used for her animal sacrifices, “Real witches do real things” (2016). Marina Abramovic’s performance piece “Spirit Cooking” (1996) was used in the infamous Pizzagate conspiracy theory of 2016 accusing Abramovic and the Hillary Clinton campaign of practicing witchcraft rituals and occult magic. Meanwhile, thousands of people coordinate binding spells against political leaders (#bindtrump) and Silvia Federici’s seminal book “Caliban and the Witch” moved from the bookshelf to the bedside table for many art professionals.

In the lecture “WITCHCRAFT HYSTERIA. Performing witchcraft in contemporary art and pop culture” the artist and scholar Johanna Braun and the art historian Katharina Brandl will examine the current interest in and the (queer-feminist) reception of witchcraft in contemporary performance practices. Subsequently, the magical practitioner Amanda Yates Garcia will join them for a panel discussion to provide a practitioner’s perspective on this phenomenon.