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Blind Cut
Image courtesy of Marlborough Chelsea, New York.

For magicians, a "blind cut" means pretending to shuffle a deck of cards but actually keeping the order intact.

For the curators of a new gallery exhibit, it's equally deceptive, referring to the art of fictional places, imagined personas and inaccurate histories.

Indeed, "Blind Cut," which runs at the Marlborough Chelsea through February 18, is all about trickery and visual sleights of hand--bringing together some 70 works that explore fakeness and fraud.

The two-story exhibit features plenty of heavy hitters (dadaist Kurt Schwitters, surrealist Luis Buñuel and conceptual photographer Cindy Sherman), but we were most interested in the work of the emerging or lesser-known contributors: 33-year-old Matt Johnson's meticulously carved faux-wooden walnut shells, Jeffrey Vallance's chicken-shaped reliquary for a "pet" he bought in the frozen-foods aisle, Mike Kelley's rephotographed tableaus from found high school yearbooks.

Anchoring the show is the work of Belgian intellectual Marcel Broodthaers, who, after living for decades as a struggling poet, began creating intentionally insincere art in the 1960s that reframed his prose as "sellable" objects.

It's easy to get fooled at a show dedicated to artifice--we initially took Pierre Huyghe's forged Modigliani for the real thing--but believing such fictions is half the fun, anyway.

"Blind Cut" runs through February 18 at the Marlborough Chelsea, 545 W. 25th St. (between 10th and 11th aves.); 212-463-8634 or marlboroughgallery.com

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