Susan MacWilliam

  • Date:
    20 September–24 November 2013


Susan MacWilliam

AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED is a body of new sculpture and video work commissioned by NN and QUAD. AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED considers the historic and groundbreaking experimental ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) and telepathy work of parapsychologist Dr JB Rhine. With a fascination in the researcher’s quest for answers and proof Susan MacWilliam reflects on the work, experimental apparatus, lives and personalities of those involved in parapsychology – a subject falling beyond the ‘normal’ fields of science and psychology.

Regarded as the ‘Father of Modern Parapsychology’ Dr Rhine (1895–1980) was a leading researcher and published author. Rhine was interested in testing ESP, telepathy, psychokinesis and precognition through laboratory methods acceptable to science. Rhine began his renowned experimental research in the 1930s and developed tests employing the identification of unseen cards and the prediction of dice rolls. In 2011 MacWilliam worked with the Rhine Research Center and Parapsychology Laboratory Records, Duke University, Durham, NC. A 1934 telegram sent to Dr Rhine on behalf of the medium Eileen Garrett with a label stating ‘AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED’ prompted MacWilliam’s line of enquiry.

AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED is developed from MacWilliam’s work with historical interviews and correspondence, records of experiments, photographs, newspaper clippings, books and laboratory apparatus; and from her own interviews with Dr Sally Rhine Feather (daughter of Dr Rhine) and Dr Seymour Mauskopf, Emeritus Professor of History, Duke University (co-author of The Elusive Science: Origins of Experimental Psychical Research, 1980).

Working as both observer and participant MacWilliam has worked closely with prominent parapsychologists and psychical research institutions, including with poltergeist investigator Dr William G Roll and the Dermo Optical Perception Laboratory of Madame Yvonne Duplessis, Paris. Her sustained engagement with the New York family of the Irish born medium Eileen Garrett has resulted in the production of five video works. MacWilliam has worked with historical archives internationally including those of the Parapsychology Foundation, New York and the Hamilton Family fonds (Spirit Photograph Archive), University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. Exploring cases of paranormal and perceptual phenomena the subjects of MacWilliam’s work include Dermo Optical Perception, table tilting, psychic abilities and mediumship.

Susan MacWilliam’s video works have been exhibited internationally and are held in the Drama and Literature Section of the British Library’s Sound Archive. In 2009 Susan MacWilliam represented Northern Ireland at the 53rd Venice Biennale with her solo show REMOTE VIEWING. Solo exhibitions include Open Space, Victoria, BC (2012), aceart inc, Winnipeg (2010), Gimpel Fils, London (2008), Jack The Pelican, New York (2008), Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin (2004), Cornerhouse, Manchester (2001), and Project Arts, Dublin (1997). Group exhibitions include NGBK, Berlin (2013), Kunsthalle Krems, (2012), Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2011), Kino Kino, Sandnes (2011), Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver (2010), Villa Merkel, Esslingen (2010), The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2007) and Chapter Arts, Cardiff (2003). Forthcoming exhibitions in 2013 include It is Only A State of Mind, Heidelberger Kunstverein and Ghostly Matters, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Celje. Susan MacWilliam is a lecturer in Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

A series of earlier video works by Susan MacWilliam will be exhibited at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery from 1 September–13 October 2013.

AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED will develop over the coming year and will open at QUAD in 2014 from 20 September–16 November.

For more information about the artist please visit


Crit Group
1 October 2013, 7pm
Venue: NN, Number Nine Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1DP
NN hosts the Crit Group for artists at all stages of their career to come together to discuss their work in progress, run by Kate Harrison & Peter Slack.

Pecha Kucha Night
10 October 2013, 7pm
Venue: MK Gallery, 900 Midsummer Blvd, Milton Keynes MK9 3QA
20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, come and show everyone what you do! Whether you are an artist, writer, designer, musician, collector, curator, fanatic, whatever you are come and share it in 20 slides. We are collaborating with MK Gallery to host PKNs so book in to present or just turn up to spectate.

Email [email protected] with PKN as the subject of your email to book your slot to present.

Artist talk: Susan MacWilliam
24 October 2013, 2pm
Venue: The University of Northampton, Avenue Campus, Northampton NN2 6JD
Hear more about Susan MacWilliam’s practice and see films by the artist followed by a Q & A session.

Half Term Family Workshop
31 October 2013, 2pm
Venue: NN, Number Nine Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1DP
Make a Magical Machine – In response to Susan Macwilliams’ exhibition, artist Hannah Gaunt invites you to come and create a large scale magic-making machine using recycled materials and found objects. Suitable for children aged 4+ and their families.

Film Night
14 November 2013, 7pm
Venue: NN, Number Nine Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1DP
A night of short and feature-length films inspired by the work in the exhibition.

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