Freaky blue witches laugh at you from their warped mirror world, taunting you for missing out on whatever dark pleasures they’re indulging. Ira Cohen’s Dr. Mabuse—much like the other works in this exhibition—is a window to the world of the occult and, as with all such windows, it’s either a mirror itself, or smudged by those who don’t want you to see.
At first thought, there seems inherent risk in putting on an exhibition about the occult, since the term seeks escape from view: the “occult,” after all, consists of hidden knowledge and practices, reserved only for the initiated, allowing comprehension and manipulation of the cosmos and the self. Meanwhile, an exhibition at NYU’s 80WSE gallery in the Lower East Side is maybe the least occult thing one could imagine.
Or is it?
(Appeared in NYAQ, Feb. 5, 2016)