Art in the Age of Anxiety, 2020

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


Curated by SAF Director of Collections and Senior Curator Omar Kholeif, Art in the Age of Anxiety brings together a global group of contemporary artists to explore the ways everyday devices, technologies and digital networks have altered our collective consciousness. The exhibition presents more than 60 works spanning sculpture, prints, video, virtual reality, robotics and algorithmic programs developed by more than 30 international artists.

Art in the Age of Anxiety conjures the bombardment of information, misinformation, emotion, deception and secrecy that invades online and offline life in the age of digital technology. It aims to illuminate the “post-digital” condition—the manners and behaviours found in a world altered by the rise of digital technologies—and posits speculations for our future. The exhibition represents the culmination of more than a decade of research on the subject by Kholeif, who has previously curated internationally touring exhibitions such as I Was Raised on the Internet (MCA Chicago, 2018) and Electronic Superhighway (Whitechapel Gallery, 2016) and authored and edited seven books on the subject, including You Are Here: Art After the Internet (HOME and Space, 2018) and Goodbye, World! Looking at Art in the Digital Age (Sternberg Press, 2018).

The exhibition features leading contemporary practitioners including Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Cory Arcangel, Wafaa Bilal, Cao Fei, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Joshua Nathanson, Trevor Paglen, Siebren Versteeg, UVA, Guan Xiao and YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and works across a range of media.Trevor Paglen’s Circles (2015), is a single-channel video installation offering an atmospheric view into the surveillance state, and is presented alongside some of his most iconic photographs such as They Took the Faces from the Accused and the Dead… (2019), his infamous cloud photographs, as well as his portraits of historical figures whose faces have been run through Facebook’s facial recognition system; and a selection of works realized from Cao Fei’s RMB City, a virtual city designed in the online world of Second Life that probes the boundary between real and virtual existence, will also be presented

Other highlights include a new version of Siebren Versteeg’s iconic 2012 work Daily Times (Performer), which is re-imagined for the exhibition. Here, a giant screen draws from headlines produced by the UAE-based English language newspaper The National and produces abstract paintings in response to its content. Also on view is Jenna Sutela’s musical film Nimiia Cétïï (2018) exploring consciousness, neural networks and a new Martian language. Following its recent presentation at The Shed in New York is Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Shadow Stalker (2019), an epic film that explores Predictive Policing, Identity Theft and the dangers of Data mining, featuring renowned actress Tessa Thompson and “The Spirit of the Deep Web” played by January Steward.

The exhibition design for Art in the Age of Anxiety is created by architect—and Sharjah Biennial 13 participant—Todd Reisz. Reisz’s work often focuses on cities of the Arabian Peninsula from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Here, he has worked with curator Omar Kholeif to imagine a physical maze of corridors and experiences that will fully immerse the viewer. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a publication after the exhibition and a series of discursive events including a mini symposium. The full schedule of events will be available in early 2020.

Participating artists

Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Cory Arcangel
Jeremy Bailey
Wafaa Bilal
• James Bridle
Antoine Catala
Douglas Coupland
Thomson & Craighead
Simon Denny
Aleksandra Domanović
Constant Dullaart
• Electronic Disturbance Theater
Cao Fei
Oliver Laric
• Lynn Hershman Leeson
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Eva and Franco Mattes
Joshua Nathanson
Katja Novitskova
• Trevor Paglen
• Jon Rafman
• Tabor Robak
Pamela Rosenkranz
Aura Satz
Bogosi Sekhukhuni
Jenna Sutela
Siebren Versteeg
Andrew Norman Wilson
Guan Xiao

Artwork Images

Trevor Paglen
CLOUD #865 Hough Circle Transform, 2019
Dye sublimation print; 156.53 cm x 126.05 cm
Installation view: Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020
Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York
© Trevor Paglen. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic

View all images

Art in the Age of Anxiety, 2020
Installation view: Gallery 1, Al Mureijah Art Spaces, Sharjah Art Foundation
Photo: Danko Stjepanovic


Trevor Paglen, ‘de Beauvoir’ (Even the Dead Are Not Safe), 2019
From ‘Even the Dead Are Not Safe’, 2019
Colourised eigenface, dye sublimation print; 126.05 x 126.05 cm
Installation view: Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020
Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York
© Trevor Paglen
Photo: Danko Stjepanovic


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

Close images