Live Art Magazine
25 September-26 November 2002
Joshua Sofaer, Crystal Ball. ICA,
London. 30 June 2002
Reviewed by Philip Stanier
‘I was welcomed into the space by Joshua Sofaer in his best tuxedo and then handed over to Abby (my glamorous guide to the rest of the event) who talked me through what would happen. At the back of the space, were seven experts with whom I would have ten minutes each, they would ask me questions about myself and then predict my future, at the end I would be given a folder containing their predictions.
The experts were composed of: A man from Age Concern, a psychic palm and tarot reader, a careers psychologist, an illustrator, an optometrist, a face reader and a financial analyst. Sofaer sounded a klaxon horn and so myself and six other participants, each with their own red-dressed guides, were taken to our first expert. While our future was told, our guides danced and played games of chance for any passing audience. Miss High Leg Kick (high glamour and gymnastic expertise in one package) certainly lived up to her name during the entertaining Bauschian dance routing that heralded the move from one expert to another.
Accuracy was what concerned me most of all: if an unpleasant prediction arrived would it be vague? How could I avoid it? Or would everything be fine? As the event proceeded I would both delighted and unnerved by how precise and coherent the predictions were. Though worryingly, the face reader and psychic gave me exactly the same medical advice. However, the ‘factual’ predictions were more disturbing. The man from Age Concern reminded me that my life expectancy was 100-120, and that I should think about financial planning for a long retirement period. The optometrist was fine until he looked “behind my eye” and I remembered all of the medical conditions that can be discovered there. It drew attention to the fact that these were real experts and that things we can’t change can inescapably determine the future, in which case this event could have given me a nasty surprise.
Fortunately my future turned out to be fine. When telling other people about the event they refused to believe in the accuracy of some of the predictions, ‘That applies to anyone’ they said. However, ‘real’ or ‘fake’ I believe the experts read me like a book. The event demonstrated our skill in reading each other and the conflicting love/fear of being read. Most of us like to be understood, but not many of us like to be told that we’re predictable. We want to hear that we are in control and not that our lives have already been decided. Accordingly, Sofaer had created a beautiful executed event that found my fascination, my vanity and my fears and then handed them back to me in a red folder labelled ‘It’s your future’. Whilst I don’t really believe the predictions, I’ve since taken up yoga, started drinking more water and set up a savings account. You never know.’