Emotional Blackmail

May 9 - July 8, 2012

Opening Reception: Friday, May 11 at 7 pm
Opening remarks at 7:30pm
Curator/Exhibition Tour at 6 pm

Christodoulos Panayiotou, Slow Dance Marathon, 2005. Video 4:22 min. Courtesy the artist and Rodeo Gallery, Istanbul.

Haraldur Jónsson, Tova Mozard, Meiro Koizumi, Amie Siegel, Hadley & Maxwell, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Benny Nemerofsky-Ramsay & Aleesa Cohene, Ragnar Kjartansson & Magnús Sigurðarson, Bert Rodriguez, Kerry Downey, Sigga Björg Sigurðardóttir, Kristleifur Björnsson, Ariel Schlesinger, Constant Reality Theatre

Curated by Markús Þór Andrésson & Chen Tamir, organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG)

How do you feel? Is how you feel, your personal experience, rooted deeply within yourself, or is it learned behaviour? In the exhibition Emotional Blackmail, contemporary artists explore the fluid state of emotions, how they flow back and forth between the personal and the public, the ubiquitous and ephemeral, the natural and the affected. Tracing a tendency over the last decade away from irony and towards an attempt at sincere expression, this exhibition offers a sampling of complex works in an effort to examine what we might
call "neo-sincerity."
The new stream of sincerity has surfaced at a time when individual expression seems prized above all, however there appears to be a simultaneous diminishing of the emotional scope. After the irony and cynicism of the 1980s and 1990s, we may have lost our ability to engage fully in the complexity of emotions, leaving the distinct impression that in today's world, feelings can be encapsulated by a limited number of emoticons.

Tova Mozard, still from The Big Scene, 2010. Video 32 min. Courtesy the artist and Milliken Gallery, Stockholm.

Emotional Blackmail reflects the recent trend among artists to analyse, express and generate emotions through their work, and the ways in which sincerity manifests within it. It looks at how emotions are expressed and manipulated in the name of art; the often problematic emotional exchange between artist, collaborator and viewer; and the difficulty of expression, analysis and generation of emotion in contemporary visual art. This exhibition reveals contemporary art's reliance on language, theatre, film and music for addressing the complexities of emotions. Ranging from pop music, YouTube and teen culture to Ingmar Bergman and selfhelp, the inspirations for these works are placed squarely in the mainstream. However, the artists see beyond simple sappiness by considering the constructed effects of what is often called the "culture industry"
and the mechanisms of its subtly manipulative power.

In contemporary culture sincerity proves to be layered and complex, prompting us to ask: What do we accept as sincere and is sincerity truly possible? Should we equate emotions with sincerity? Is feeling a choice?


The Record: Examining human emotions 

Akimbo Akimblog: KIM NEUDORF at the KWAG

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