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Sharjah Art Foundation Presents Art In The Age Of Anxiety

Following a delay due to COVID-19, an exhibition entitled Art in the Age of Anxiety, presented by Sharjah Art Foundation, launched 26 June

Art in the Age of Anxiety, 2020. Installation view: Sharjah Art Foundation. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic

Exploring art in the age of the internet, Art in the Age of Anxiety has united a global group of contemporary artists by the likes of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Cory Arcangel and Wafaa Bilal to name a few, who explore the way technologies and our devices have shifted our collective consciousness. Curated by Omar Kholeif, the show comprises over 60 works spanning sculpture, print, video, virtual reality, robotics and algorithmic programs.

"Art in the Age of Anxiety explores critical questions in contemporary art and society through the work of a diverse group of artists from around the world,’ says Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation. "We are delighted to inaugurate Omar Kholeif’s tenure as Senior Curator and our first Director of Collections with this important exhibition."

Tabor Robak, Drinking Bird Universe (video still), 2018. Digital video with live data; 30 minutes (looped), 6.1 x 183.9 x 105.2 cm. Installation view: Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic

Depicting the abundance of information, emotion, deception, secrecy and dangers of consuming misinformation online, Art in the Age of Anxiety showcases the potential ‘post-digital’ condition - namely the new-found behaviours and development of manners as a result of digital technologies, and what this could entail for our collective future.

The theme of the show has been conjured following over a decade of research by Kholeif. "This is an exhibition that grew out of my own anxiety about the future," he says. "It completes over a decade’s worth of research exploring how artists explore, deconstruct and materialise the polemical issues raised by our accelerating society."

Trevor Paglen, They Took the Faces from the Accused and the Dead… (detail), 2019. Set of 14 pigment prints; 127 x 106.68 cm. Installation view: Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic

A work of note includes Circles (2015) by American artist Trevor Paglen, a video installation showcasing an atmospheric view into the surveillance state. Another highlight is Transdimensional Serpent (2016) by artist-cum-filmmaker Jon Rafman, a VR depiction of the all-consuming nature of technology.

"There are no easy answers here," adds Kholeif. "Rather, this exhibition posits questions as experiences that physically and viscerally confront the viewer with their very own complicity in our everyday technological society. We look forward to seeing, hearing and feeling how our audiences will respond to the context that we have created with this special exhibition. This is ever more urgent in the wake of a new era that has brought forth new forms of social distancing, which has thickened the context of the digital sphere."

The exhibition coincides with the launch of a publication with the same name, comprising over 400 pages of commissioned essays, reflections and artistic interventions by leading figures.

Art in the Age of Anxiety is on view until 26 September 2020 at Gallery 1, 2 & 3 Al Mureijah Square

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