Dread – Fear in the age of technological acceleration at De Hallen

De Hallen Haarlem’s Curatorial Grant
7 September–24 November 2013
De Hallen Haarlem

Timo Arnall (UK) / Micol Assaël (IT) / Mark Bain (US) / James Beckett (SA) / Dean Blunt (UK) / James Bridle (UK) / Constant (NL) / Emptyset (UK) / Alicia Framis (ES) / Laurent Grasso (FR) / Carl Michael von Hausswolff (SE) / Roger Hiorns (UK) / Thomas Hirschhorn (CH) & Marcus Steinweg (DE) / Paul Jebanasam (LK) / Krõõt Juurak (LT) / Jacob Kirkegaard (DK) / Jørn Knutsen (NO) / Gert Jan Kocken (NL) / Jonas Lund (SE) / Aditya Mandayam (IN) / Metahaven (NL) / Kianoosh Motallebi (UK) / Stephen O’Malley (US) / Trevor Paglen (US) / Yayati Papita (IN) / Roly Porter (UK) / Anri Sala (AL) / Einar Sneve Martinussen (NO) / Espen Sommer Eide (NO) / Sarah van Sonsbeeck (NL) / Berend Strik (NL)

“Dread, as a techno-dystopian zeitgeist, rests intangible and un-rendered inside the fibre-optic cables, below the grey surface of the drones, and behind the ominous speech acts of cyber war-waging strategists.”

De Hallen Haarlem opens the new season with the international group exhibition Dread – Fear in the age of technological acceleration, curated by Juha van ‘t Zelfde, winner of the De Hallen Haarlem Curatorial Grant 2013. The exhibition presents works in various media, and by artists of different generations, that deal with apprehension and fear as a result of technological innovation.

A synchronization of emotions
Instantaneous communication technologies like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and the worldwide distribution of information on the internet play a major role in the acceleration and synchronization of emotions. Fear of a terrorist attack, a drone strike or the invasion of privacy online can simultaneously be shared by everyone all over the world. The phenomena of ‘acceleration,’ ‘omnipresence’ and ‘instantaneity,’ mapped out by philosophers such as Paul Virilio and Peter Sloterdijk during the Gulf War and 9/11, and defining qualities of our networked zeitgeist, are a rich source for the creation of art.

A readiness for danger
Dread is the visceral sensation that warns us of possible dangers. Sigmund Freud has suggested that dread is a readiness for danger. According to the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, dread is not so much a fear of the present, but a fear of the future. Dread is not a fear of the actual, but it is a fear of the possible. Dread is a fear of what has not happened yet but may well happen in the future. It is a legitimate everyday fear that people live with and have to deal with on a daily basis.

Art offers perspectives
Putting a searchlight on dread may lead to the possibility of an early detection and eventual prevention of catastrophe. The dreadful is not only a state of paralysis—it is also a constructive, moral force, that helps us decide what is good in order to preserve it and prevent bad things from happening.

The exhibition contains works that consist of constructive dread, like the Utopian organization of freedom of Constant’s New Babylon; the phenomenological investigation of drone surveillance of Laurent Grasso’s On Air; and the atomized passenger aircraft engine of Roger Hiorns in his work Untitled, as the catastrophic conclusion of human imagination.

Some works are ambiguous by nature, other works create a direct physical response, making the spectator literally feel dread. But all the works combined intend to create an environment in which dread is exposed as an affective domain for contemporary art.

Dread exists in the changes brought about by technological innovation, by cultural and social upheavals and the social responses to them. And if dread is just memory in the future tense, then the artists in Dread may possibly remember, recognize and warn us for future terror.

De Hallen Haarlem Curatorial Grant
Every two years, De Hallen Haarlem offers an under-35 curator the opportunity to realize an exhibition project. With this initiative, the museum for modern and contemporary art wants to stimulate the development of talent among up-and-coming curators in the Netherlands and bring about a fruitful exchange with young thinkers and makers from outside the museum. The De Hallen Haarlem Curatorial Grant has been made possible by the generous support of the Dr. Marijnus Johannes van Toorn & Louise Scholten Foundation.

6 September: Opening at De Hallen Haarlem with Stephen O’Malley, Espen Sommer Eide and Yayati Papita
13 September: Ryoji Ikeda and Eli Keszler at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam
14 September: Roly Porter, Emptyset and Paul Jebanasam, Haarlem
26 October: Symposium & film event at Eye Film Institute, Amsterdam. With a.o. Johan Grimonprez, Terminal Beach, Krõõt Juurak and Gabriel Lester
25 November: Closing event with Dean Blunt at the Bimhuis, Amsterdam

A book will be published by Valiz titled Dread – the dizziness of freedom, with contributions by a.o. China Miéville, Kevin Slavin, Thomas Hirschhorn, Johan Grimonprez, Superflux and James Bridle.
Exhibition architecture by Miroslav Rajić (HR).

Alongside the exhibition, a book will be published by Valiz Publishers, in their ‘Antennae’ series on art and theory. Titled Dread – the dizziness of freedom, with contributions by a.o. China Miéville, Kevin Slavin, Thomas Hirschhorn, Johan Grimonprez, Superflux and James Bridle. Design by Metahaven. Paperback, 234 pp.

Exhibition architecture by Miroslav Rajić (HR).