Odd images glimpsed through screens. A strange, milky smudge on a photo. Something caught out of the corner of the eye. Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence, an exhibit at USC Fisher Museum of Art, explores enigma and perception through works employing mist, light and otherworldly effects. Perfect for this time of year? Yes indeedy. If you're very brave, that is.
Phantasmagoria, a crowd-pleasing phenomenon back in 1800s Europe, was how many people got their scares prior to film and television. Craftily combining screens, shadows, smoky effects and spooky stagecraft, the producers of these traveling wonders would delve deep into fear and superstition. Audiences went wild for them, of course, and the shows were much in demand for decades.
We're excited to see the return of the phantasmagoria, having missed the first performances by a few hundred years. Will we feel as though we've passed through the looking glass into some foggy parallel universe inhabited by spirits and mist? We're hoping, if only for an hour.
Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence
Through November 8 (closed Sundays and Mondays)
USC Fisher Museum of Art, 823 Exposition Boulevard