Politicians, pundits, and activists often refer to a “culture of fear.” Fear of pollution or contagion, fear of different views or lifestyles, fear of terrorist attack—these real or imagined threats cause much anxiety in today’s world. In this book, Caterina Albano examines the current culture of fear through the lens of contemporary art, offering a broad look at the ways fear pervades every aspect of life and defines how people relate to and interpret the world around them.
Drawing on the work of artists from Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, and Louise Bourgeois to Mike Kelly, Tracy Moffatt, and Gerhard Richter, Albano investigates the manifestations of fear in our culture and the development of an aesthetics of fear. She looks at a wide range of media that convey an array of states of fear—body terror and contagion, trauma and phobias; feelings of dislocation, displacement, and alienation; narratives of guilt and shame; virtual fear; and fear as entertainment. Encompassing the history of medicine, neuropsychology, sociology, and philosophy as well as the history of art and culture, Fear and Art in the Contemporary World shines new light on the role of images on the current landscape of fear.