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'Current Disturbance', Mona Hatoum

'Detached ', Rachel Whiteread

Fear in art


Book: FEAR AND ART In The Contemporary World by Caterina Albano


What I liked about this book was it had a great insight into the psychology of art and its interaction with an audience/society. It gave me an awareness of the gaze of the artist and the viewer and how this is important in the intentions of an art piece.


Albano states “shame relates to one’s identity and inadequacies in relation to an internal and external gaze… this locates trauma within the contemporary tendency towards the confessional and autobiographical” (p138). She is talking about a social inadequacy in relation to a contemporary culture and age of media, self-analysis and hunger for knowledge.


This book mentions many artists of whom I am greatly interested in. For example Rachel Whiteread and how she shows anxiety to be immoveable, paralysing and dominant.

Mona Hatoum conveys the homely and unhomely of everyday things to show a socio-political alientation, disempowerment, entrapment and exile. These artists are linked by this psychological reflection upon the state of the human thought in relation to their environment and circumstances.


I like what Albano has to say about Bourgeois in relation to fear, saying “she has mapped the psychic scenarios of the mind by morphing everyday objects into the frightening projections of her inner landscape... (of) her dark fantasies and conflicts…and childhood memories” (p79). I find that my work deals with similar issues to Bourgeoise because it is a relationship with haunting memories of damaging experiences and how this affects the way one looks at and evaluates oneself. 


More and more, I realise how my work does fit into a genre of emotional art that uses real life experience, to express an inner turmoil.


The idea of the individual's psychology and the portrayal of its damaging effects is what I convey in my 'cages'. A place where “warped memory and the real and imaginary merge” (p140). Also this search for the origins of trauma is very much part of the narrative structure and excavation of the mind. Albano goes on to say that “Following Freud, Bourgeois may be considered to be re-enacting the past… angst and psychic experience of entrapment” (p82). I wonder if, in my own work, I am recalling past experiences in order to deal with them? And if so what would this mean to an audience? Can something that is self-revelationary and healing, also have a positive effect on the viewer too?


Albano says that "psychology refers to as autobiographical memories and autobiographical knowledge..... acquiring a story-like quality.... imbued with the emotional experience... When we retrieve a memory, we also gain access and evoke the feelings contained in such a memory" (p83). This encapsulates every aspect of what I am dealing with in my work and emphasises the importance of a psychology and at the end of the day the necessity of a healthy emotional mind, which may be something that is not valued enough in society.


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