Magic and conjuring inhabit the boundaries and the borderlands of performance. The conjuror’s act of demonstrating the apparently impossible, the uncanny, the marvellous, or the grotesque challenges the spectator’s sense of reality. It brings him or her up against their own assumptions about how the world works; at its most extreme, it asks the spectator to re-evaluate his or her sense of the limits of the human. “Performing Dark Arts” is an exploration of the paradox of the conjuror, the actor who pretends to be a magician. It aims to illuminate the history of conjuring by examining it in the context of performance studies, and to throw light on aspects of performance studies by testing them against the art of conjuring. The book examines not only the performances of individual magicians from Dedi to David Blaine, but also the broader cultural contexts in which their performances were received, and the meanings which they have attracted.