A group exhibition confronting anxiety in contemporary art, Uncertain Spectator asks individuals to cross a threshold — to place themselves in situations riddled with tension, confront deeply charged emotional content, and grapple with feelings of apprehension. The works presented deal with a general mood of uneasiness arising from recent political and economic events that frames a future rife with imminent threats. Uncertain Spectator not only responds to these unsettling situations, but also creates them by challenging individuals to step outside of a place of comfort both physically and emotionally.
The exhibition incorporates media works in the broader context of contemporary art landscape through the work of 10 artists spanning the genres of video, installation, sculpture, and interactive media. Occupying EMPAC's lobby, Marie Sester's commissioned installation Fear consists of a seating area with a table that pulses with a warm inviting light, until the viewer attempts to approach it. Anthony Discenza creates street signs that do not communicate a set of rules for public space, but instead convey doomsday predictions and poetic reflections on doubt. Jesper Just's black and white film, A Vicious Undertow, presents an enigmatic and open-ended narrative, which never allows the viewer to achieve closure.
Uncertain Spectator is contextualized by an exhibition catalog that considers the role anxiety has played in philosophical discussions of existentialism, psychoanalysis, and ethics. The accompanying blog, Uncertain Spectator(s), invites select philosophers, cultural theorists, and artists to focus on the prevalence of anxiety in current events, as well as its expression in philosophy and contemporary art.