“Trick (1998) came about after a conversation I had once with Stuart Morgan. Morgan had suggested this title for one of my works, which was based upon the classic school experiment – one used to explain atmospheric pressure (whereby, when water contained in a cup is turned upside down and a sheet of paper placed to cover it, it does not escape due to the difference in pressure between the interior and exterior of the cup). In this piece, which I titled In vitro, the cup had been substituted instead by a wine glass filled with water, which lay upside down and was fastened by two nails attached to the wall. Inside the wine glass was a small fish swimming, albeit alien to the fragility of its situation.
However, upon careful reflection, it appeared to me that in In vitro, there was no real trick. The fish was swimming there for a fundamental physical reason, whereas in a trick, there is always something hidden from the spectator – a piece of information not transmitted.
The foundations of the trick increasingly became the main object of my interests. Using a reductionist logic, I decided to present a trick where everything was exposed and where everything that was visible, including the title, would act as a mechanism that will make invisible the obvious. And, living in England at the time, was the Queen of England not the most visible thing that one could find in the country?
This led me to create Trick, a video piece that employs the same aesthetic as las manos mágicas (“the magic hands”). Every Spanish person from my generation who had access to the 60’s television was familiar with this TV spot, which portrayed short sequences of the hands of a magician executing tricks of prestidigitation on a black background. These short sequences were essentially broadcasted to keep the audience entertained whilst dealing with faulty transmissions from the television signal.
A trick in itself.
In Trick, I would slowly rotate a pound coin in my fingers, following a continuous and endless movement, just like magicians do.
What the spectator would miss, despite it being perfectly visible, was how each turn of the coin would always show the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. This was due to the coin having been previously manipulated with two equal sides. Trapped in the recognition of a familiar face, the viewer would miss the actual alteration of the coin itself. Thus, this piece underlines the subtle mechanisms that power can exercise in making itself present in the everyday life.”
Jaime Pitarch, December 2017