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Pete Sessions, Ken Buck, and Steve Stivers are among a number of House Republicans pushing to recognize magic as an art form. (image by the author for Hyperallergic)

You may not believe in magic, but it has touched the souls of a number of Republicans, who are now calling for the nation to officially recognize it “as a rare and valuable art form and national treasure.” This week, Texas Congressman Pete Sessions introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that lists a slew of reasons why you, too, should care about the paranormal. It’s cosponsored by seven other right-wingers.

Like all recognized art forms — from the visual arts to literature — magic has “the unique power and potential to impact the lives of all people,” allowing them to “experience the impossible” while bringing them “wonder and happiness,” says the bill. We’re glad the congressmen are so vocal about their support of the practice, while some of them also obstruct or oppose policies that could similarly “impact the lives of all people.” Sessions, specifically, believes in magic but does not extend such heartfelt endorsements to gay marriage, abortion as an unrestricted right, increased energy regulations, and restrictions on gun ownership, to name a few very real issues. Perhaps policymakers are suggesting women use magic to have abortions.

As ABC News reported, a spokesperson for the NRA-endorsed Sessions noted that his constituency includes a “robust magic community” and that he first became aware of its lack of official recognition from the mayor of Wylie, Texas, Eric Hogue. A former magician, Hogue is credited in the resolution as using his “skills to teach elementary school students about the different roles and responsibilities of local government.”

The text also praises a number of more well-known figures associated with magic, from Leonardo da Vinci and Georges Mélières to Harry Houdini and David Copperfield. The latter — whose “21 Emmy Awards, 11 Guinness World Records, and over four billion dollars in ticket sales” the bill references — actually receives the most mentions. When Copperfield got word of the proposed legislation, he said that it “means everything.

“To get respect for magic is a continuing quest,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We all need to escape, we all need to dream, we all need to be inspired. Sharing infinite possibilities with young people — I think we can all agree on that.”

Television’s beloved magic man and performer-for-the-stars (including, of course, Trump) David Blaine also weighed in on the news, simply tweeting a screenshot of the resolution.

This isn’t the first time Sessions has pushed for such recognition of magic: he brought similar arguments to the House in 2014. Then, he mentioned that the bill’s passage would help magicians obtain federal arts grants, which would be pretty significant. That previous attempt was unsuccessful; we’ll see how this one fares, but knowing how government operates, successfully passing the bill through Congress may prove quite a trick to pull off.

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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

9 replies on “Abracadabra! Republicans Want to Designate Magic a “Rare and Valuable Art Form””

  1. Mock all you want but magic shows are more popular and far more interesting than art world “performance art”. For one, it takes skill. Two, it’s not boring as shit.

    Magic trick on, Republicans. Haters gonna hate!

    1. And McDonalds is more “interesting” than any reasonable two-star resto.

      As you say about performance art, “haters gonna hate”.

      1. Does quantity turn into quality?

        A handful, one I walked out on at the Whitney, only to be followed by a well-known critic who panned the piece in print, saying “walking out” was an appropriate response. I did the same with Marina’s “Seven Easy Pieces” at the Gugg. We went for hamburgers while Marina at ate Honey and laid down on a crucifix of ice. I talked with a well-trained performance artists a while back and asked her why so much performance art is bad (which is not to say other forms of art are consistently good), and she told me it was because performance artists require space and an audience to get better and mature in their work (which is not always on hand). This can be contrasted with studio artists who can improve in relative isolation without “shows” and so forth.

        I’ve only seen one performance that I thought good, but I got in free because I knew the set designer.

        Anyway, yes, most performance art sucks and is boring and I’d rather watch right-wing Republicans do magic tricks. If they can do stuff most anyone off the sidewalk can’t, props to them. The only reason the author is all surly about this because disliking Republicans is an art journalists job.

  2. “Sessions, specifically, believes in magic but does not extend such heartfelt endorsements to ..,,,,abortion as an unrestricted right..,.Perhaps policymakers are suggesting women use magic to have abortions.”

    Why is it “heartfelt” to have “unrestricted” abortions? Perhaps it is heartfelt to not murder children in the womb? Perhaps “restricting” late term abortions and preventing the fetus/child’s body from being sold for medical research is “heartfelt”. Perhaps policymakers are suggesting that women not use abortions as a form of birth control.

    1. No, those policy makers are demanding, not suggesting that women have absolutely no access to abortion for any reason.

      1. Thanks for clarifying. The issue isn’t black or white. Some who support choice also oppose late term abortions. The author suggests that to oppose “unrestricted” abortion is somehow Inhumane.

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