THE UNCANNY WORLD
Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, Gallery 1(1F)
Now, we are standing at a period of transition. In other words, it can be said that we are in the moment of breakaway. Something unfamiliar and scary emerges through the cracks, heralding the arrival of a new era. This has become even more evident post the COVID-19 pandemic. The specific language of ontact (online connection), the Anthropocene, the socio-political turmoil around the world, and the ecological disasters on a planetary scale evidently demonstrate this current. In any given era, the transitional period was filled with confusion and fear, and there was a process of vigilance and acceptance toward the unfamiliar. However, there are certain strange points that are different from the past. The sense of capturing the unfamiliar loses its edge. What diminishes is the sense of detecting the signs of the rupture that cracks the familiar world.
This exhibition intends to illuminate things that are familiar yet feel unfamiliar in our time. When one senses it, we call it anxiety. Beginning in the 20th century, the evaluation of the inherent value of anxiety began in earnest in the fields of existential philosophy and psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud’s concept of ‘uncanny’ explains a feeling of fear toward something familiar that one has known for a long time. The concept encompasses emotions that have been repressed then revealed within the self, such as desires, traumas, complexes, and primitive thoughts hidden in the unconscious. They are only camouflaged by the civilized society and self, and they are only to return and cause anxiety at any opportunity. Meanwhile, Heidegger refers to anxiety as a fundamental human sentiment. While it is difficult to recall one’s own finiteness and death in everyday life, worldly values lose their meaning and one has to face his bare existence when a fateful moment finally occurs. The sense of ‘uncanny’ is the very emotion generated by such a moment.
Of course, we cannot deny that anxiety is a painful and agonizing feeling. However, the exhibition emphasizes that pain and agony do not speak for everything. Anxiety leads us to discover unfamiliar things and detect ambiguous things that are not examined by language. In addition, anxiety stimulates the origins of human beings and drives a truthful life. Those who are facing a transitional period of our time need to evoke the positive aspects of anxiety, using this sensibility to reconstruct the self and society. The first step to do so is to look straight into anxiety. It is to look into the unknown things in the deep of darkness without turning away from them. We need to observe them with ambivalence of interest and vigilance. That is the attitude we need to take as we are about to face a breakaway into a new world.
Keum Hyewon, Kim Myungjoo, Roh Jinah, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Mooni Perry, Moon Sohyun, Son Mongjoo, Sim Seungwook, Ed Atkins, Li Setbyul, Kawita Vatanajyankur