The fear of place and the manifestation of this in contemporary art is the territory for TOPOPHOBIA. It takes the form of a group exhibition and related publication. Conceived and curated by Anne Eggebert and Polly Gould TOPOPHOBIA is the product of their long-term collaboration as artists and curators under the name of Eggebert-and-Gould. The exhibition features the work of ten UK and international artists and tours in 2012 to three UK venues; Danielle Arnaud, Bluecoat and Spacex. This website includes selected images of the exhibiting artists’ work, information about the TOPOPHOBIA publication (including where it can be purchased), exhibition openings, details of the symposium, coverage of two new especially commissioned works, the blog, and news of forthcoming events.
The range of media and approaches is wide. Anne Eggebert makes detailed drawings derived from images on Google Earth; Matthias Einhoff uses high-end corporate video techniques to make a spectacle of an urban wasteland; David Ferrando Giraut creates a state of anxiety with his filmic pan of the aftermath of a car accident; Polly Gould constructs distorted topographical watercolours reflected in the surface of a globe; Marja Helander depicts herself out of place between her two cultures of contemporary Finland and Sami nomadic heritage; Uta Kogelsberger reveals uncanny night visions of urban and desert America in her photographs; Almut Rink appropriates the 3D software used by architects to take the viewer on an imaginary journey in a virtual space; Abigail Reynolds exposes disjointed time and place in her use of old book illustrations in collages and assemblage; Emily Speed houses her body in a fortress made from shutters; and Louise K Wilson uses sound derived from her work at a previously top secret Cold War testing site.
The related book and e-publication features additional essays and content. The 124 page paperback with 36 colour photos features a foreword by Danielle Arnaud; an introduction and essay by curators Eggebert-and-Gould; full-colour artists pages with full-page texts on each artists’ work written by Polly Gould; an essay by Dr Caterina Albano, Research Fellow and curator for Artakt at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design; an essay by Thomas D Trummer, international curator and writer on art, Curator of Visual Arts, Siemens Stiftung, Munich; a newly commissioned short story by award-winning novelist Leslie Forbes; and biographies for all contributors. TOPOPHOBIA is distributed by John Rule Art Book Distribution and is available as an e-book.
The symposium event on 10 February 2012 at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, is an Art: Public Realm research programme event and provides a platform to further extend the themes of TOPOPHOBIA in a live debate.
Danielle Arnaud Gallery
13 January – 19 February 2012
123 Kennington Road,
London SE11 6SF
3 March – 22 April 2012
Liverpool L1 3BX
12 May – 7 July 2012
45 Preston Street
Exeter EX1 1DF
TOPOPHOBIA takes as its territory the fear of place as it is portrayed, explored and demonstrated in contemporary art. As an anxiety disorder, topophobia is understood as an irrational dread of certain places or situations yet, considered as a cultural phenomenon, it connects us to the existential human question of how each of us finds our place in the world. The artworks and writing have been gathered together for a common thread; in various ways they regard place and space as somehow threatened or threatening. Fearfulness, anxiety, unease, embarrassment, dislocation, alienation, nostalgia, loss, stage fright, urban dread, disturbing or humorous incongruity, suspense and entertaining thrill are some of the affects that the works entail. TOPOPHOBIA is a way of interrogating these manifestations of spatial anxiety, so to better understand how they contribute to what has recently been termed the ‘culture of fear’. Freedom is the culture of fear’s first casualty. Art offers a mental space of reflection on these places of fear, and an opportunity to consider ways out of the predicaments that ensue.
Although the origin of the fears might be found in the places and locations, the technologies of perception that shape our understanding of space and place are also generative of anxiety. Technologies extend the body beyond the usual limits of its senses. Forms of visual representation, simulation and picturing the world, expand the body, as convincingly as any false leg or bionic arm. They supplement the scope of the body, allow it to perceive beyond its natural limits, and transcend the boundaries of vision to see what cannot otherwise be seen, or hear what cannot normally be heard. Yet these techniques of visual and aural representation paradoxically lead to a sensation of lack and disappearance; the hors champ of the camera pan accentuates what is off screen, the night vision of long exposure camera reminds us of the dark, the revealed limbs in a wearable architecture indicate a body otherwise enclosed.
These technologies of disappearance paralyse us; as they extend they also curtail, as they propel us into the multiple, contradictory, distant and proximal locations, they also remove the ground from beneath our feet. The fear of place affects the sense of ones body in place. In this regard, like many of our emotions or feelings, fear connects us to our embodiment, as does aesthetic experience. Encounters with real art works in real space are always in relation to the body, the other works, and the architectural spaces. The curatorial project of TOPOPHOBIA has dealt with the expansion and contraction of space as it occurs between the touring venues. The artworks have not been static curatorial arrangements, but have been articulated into multiple versions due to this sequence of different spaces; the reconfiguration of installations, the addition and subtraction of elements in a series, and the inclusion of two new artists’ commissions, (especially made new pieces of work by Emily Speed at Bluecoat and Louise K Wilson at Spacex, providing the opportunity for these artists to engage with the site and situations arising from the particularities of these two specific locations.) To encounter TOPOPHOBIA’s works in the architectural spaces of these venues, at their widely dispersed geographic locations, is to encounter the works’ relationship to both intimate and large-scale space, to the historic and contemporary, and the unease, in some instances, with which the works occupy or challenge those different sites. The spaces themselves function as devices for viewing, articulating varied modes of spectatorship. These spaces, with their social and architectural mores, provoke a dis/locatedness or dis/placement for the collection of works. Does this render the domestic, in the form of the Danielle Arnaud Gallery, as the locus suspectus, das Unheimliche, or does the work simply allude to the shift of the intimate and private space into the realm of ‘everything that ought to have remained hidden but has come to light’? The public domain of the art gallery provides a circumstance for being with others in a shared experience of communal space, countering the tendency to the privatisation of experience and political implications of fear, which are too often isolating.
Here, however, in TOPOPHOBIA’s digital and virtual form, it enters your private space, sits at your desktop or on your lap, moving in and occupying places it really should not dare to tread.
Conceived and curated by Eggebert‐and‐Gould