press release

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) is pleased to announce Uncertain Spectator, a group exhibition confronting anxiety in contemporary art. Uncertain Spectator asks individuals to cross a threshold - to place themselves in situations riddled with tension, confront deeply charged emotional content, and grapple with feelings of apprehension. The works presented deal with a general mood of uneasiness arising from recent political and economic events that frames a future rife with imminent threats. Uncertain Spectator not only responds to these unsettling situations, but also creates them by challenging individuals to step outside of a place of comfort both physically and emotionally.

The exhibition incorporates media works in the broader context of contemporary art landscape through the work of 10 artists spanning the genres of video, installation, sculpture, and interactive media. Occupying EMPAC's lobby, Marie Sester's commissioned installation Fear consists of a seating area with a table that pulses with a warm inviting light, until the viewer attempts to approach it. Anthony Discenza creates street signs that do not communicate a set of rules for public space, but instead convey doomsday predictions and poetic reflections on doubt. Jesper Just's black and white film, A Vicious Undertow, presents an enigmatic and open-ended narrative, which never allows the viewer to achieve closure.

Curated by Emily Zimmerman, assistant curator, Uncertain Spectator is contextualized by an exhibition catalog that considers the role anxiety has played in philosophical discussions of existentialism, psychoanalysis, and ethics. There will also be a blog to accompany Uncertain Spectator with invited weekly contributors who will look at manifestations of anxiety in contemporary culture, from philosophy to the news medua. The blog for Uncertain Spectator will launch the week of November 1st:

Additional event information, special events, and schedules may be found on the EMPAC website,

Marie Sester's Fear was made possible with support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.


EMPAC is an international hub for art, performance, science and technology, founded by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. EMPAC offers adventurous interdisciplinary public events, support for artists and scholars engaged in creative research, and the resources of a state-of-the art facility for digital media production, research and performance situated on a college campus.

EMPAC 2010-2011 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust), and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for support of artist commissions.

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Uncertain Spectator

Künstler: Graciela Carnevale (Tucuman Arde ), Anthony Discenza, CLAIRE FONTAINE , Kate Gilmore, Tue Greenfort, Susanna Hertrich, Jesper Just, Marie Sester, Superflex , Jordan Wolfson.