From Magic and Myth-Work to Care and Repair

Simon O'Sullivan


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From Magic and Myth-Work to Care and Repair is a two-part book, broadly concerned with the "fiction of the self" and with practices and explorations beyond that fiction. Each part approaches this thematic from a different angle. The first part, "On Magic and Myth-Work," deals with practices of magic (although not always named as such) and with contemporary myth-making in relation to landscape, performance and writing. The second part "On Care and Repair" gathers together essays that are more personal, but that also look to various technologies (or devices) of self-care alongside ideas of collaboration and the collective. Crucial in this exploration is our relation to one another and to the larger non-human world. All the essays were prompted by teaching students—undergraduates and postgraduates—during the initial Covid years, specifically on two courses at Goldsmiths: Occulture and Art Writing to Theory Fiction. The important themes in both these courses were all constellated around magic, myth-work, care, and repair, especially as these intersected with questions of agency and self-narration. On those courses—and throughout the book—these themes are connected to larger issues of historical trauma, neoliberalism, and ecological crisis. The essays reference many other texts and fellow travelers, but also draw on the author's own experiences within various art and theory worlds, as well as with performance art, magical practices, gaming and Buddhism.

Simon O'Sullivan

Simon O'Sullivan is Professor of Art Theory and Practice, Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths. He is also part of the collaborative "performance fiction" Plastique Fantastique with David Burrows, Alex Marzeta, and Vanessa Page. This practice-based research involves an investigation into aesthetics, subjectivity, the sacred, popular culture and politics produced through, performance, film and sound work, comics, text, installations, and assemblages. Plastique Fantastique have performed and exhibited widely in the UK and abroad and are represented by IMT Gallery in London.