The name of the exhibition is partly owed to Jacques Derrida’s concept of “hauntology.” More broadly, the term refers to how social and cultural norms of the past pervade our present in a ghost-like manner. Likewise, Haunted Realism portrays how our present reality is foreshadowed by our past. Specifically, some artists explore how our growing use of contemporary media – and consequently, our claim over these digital spaces – have caused our futures to feel empty. However, the artists don’t just play with concepts of time – they also play with realism itself, suggesting that objective truths have been ‘lost’ in our online world of conspiracies too.
While the works in Haunted Realism are binded by one theme, they are not limited to a one-dimensional message. This exhibition features a diverse range of mediums that showcase a lost future in various contexts. For example, Tetsuya Ishida’s painting Untitled (2003) depicts the melding of man and machine, demonstrating the vice grip technology has on modern Japanese society. Meanwhile, Chris Burden’s sculpture America’s Darker Moments (1994) explores the notion of lost futures much more explicitly, portraying tragedies including the shooting of student protestors at Kent State University and the My Lai massacre in South Vietnam.
From photography to sculptures, from current day Asia to 20th-century America, this exhibition demonstrates how all aspects of our lives are subject to detriments of our past. Haunted Realism is both all-encompassing and depleting at the same time, making the experience one that is truly haunting.