Alternative Education Programme’s Public Lecture #5 Post Brothers—A rock that keeps tigers away: sympathetic magic in a world of doubt

Date: 20 September
Time: 18:00
Location: Vilnius Academy of Arts’ Design Innovation Center (Maironio st. 3)
The lecture will be held in English

Rupert’s Alternative Education Programme presents A rock that keeps tigers away: sympathetic magic in a world of doubt, a lecture by Post Brothers where the curator, writer and educator will speak about counter-intuitive causal dynamics within the context of artistic practices and the world at large. 



Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn’t work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

In a 1996 episode of the television program The Simpsons, Homer Simpson demonstrates the classic logical fallacy of cum hoc ergo propter hoc (with this, therefore because of this). What Homer doesn’t recognise is that just because two variables occur together—in this case, a rock and a lack of tigers—doesn’t mean one causes the other. As a statistician would say, correlation does not imply causation! Newton said that for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction; nothing happens without being caused. But modern physics, psychoanalysis, recent ‘object-oriented’ philosophy and affect theories, as well as many contemporary artists, dispute this conception. And this has yielded more nuanced views on how things interact, relate and associate.

Borrowing its name and theme from the eponymous group exhibition curated by Post Brothers at Kunstverein München in 2017, the lecture A rock that keeps tigers away will consider the ‘magical’ manipulation of causal relationships in a wide variety of cultural practices, running the gamut from modes of capitalist divination to the contemporary legacies of conceptual art. Key to this inquiry is a reexamination of anthropologist James George Frazer’s concept of ‘sympathetic magic’, which he subcategorised into two varieties: the Law of Similarity, and the Law of Contact or ‘Contagion’. As the lecture will show, these laws are inextricably intertwined and remain integral to how certain media and mediations are interpreted within the contemporary art context. Magic, as the manipulation of cause and effect, likewise serves as a useful model for understanding the complex and counter-intuitive intensities, interconnections and intimacies humans and non-humans have within an environment and offers a litany of possible spaces for creative resistance. By examining some of these magical strategies, we will highlight how artists identify correlations and coincidences to connect disparate phenomena across time and space, how simple shifts in circumstances yield palpable results elsewhere and how the juxtaposition of objects modifies their individual meaning, utility and apprehension. Thus, causality will be shown as a central concern in any and all creative and critical practices. As Timothy Morton reminds us: ‘The Aesthetic Dimension Is the Causal Dimension.’.


Post Brothers is a critical enterprise that includes Matthew Post, an enthusiast, word processor and (co)dependent curator often engaged in artist-centred projects and collaborations or occupying the secondary information surrounding cultural production.

Their recently curated exhibitions: AMIGA WORKS by Barry Doupe at Swallow in Vilnius; In the beginning was the deed!, an exhibition inspired by local histories of insurrectionary anarchism at the Galeria Arsenał in Białystok, Poland; Double double by Laura Kaminskaitė at the CAC in Vilnius; Mercury, a visual essay curated in collaboration with the artist Simon Dybbroe Møller for the Tallinn Photomonth 2019 Biennial. Their essays and articles have been published in numerous art magazines, cultural journals, artist publications, and exhibition catalogues. They also regularly participate in exhibitions with text-based and performative contributions, and lecture in art and educational contexts across Europe. Post Brothers has extensive experience collaborating in the Baltics and their massive archive of science fiction paperbacks, ‘Memoirs Found in a Bathtub or what Entropy Means to Me’, is currently held at the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) in Vilnius. 

Born in Los Angeles, Post Brothers completed their BFA in 2006 at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver and an MA in Curatorial Practices at California College of Arts in San Francisco in 2009. They live in Kolonia Koplany, a small village near Białystok and are currently an Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Rupert’s activities are supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture
Partners: Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius Tech, Tech Zity