THE UNCANNY. Sigmund Freud and Art
Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, April 26 – November 4, 2024

The special exhibition at the Sigmund Freud Museum focuses on the uncanny - on the emotion that once aroused Freud's interest and has been elevated to the status of a pictorial object in art from the beginnings. In a variety of media, works by Louise Bourgeois, Heidi Bucher, Gregory Crewdson, Birgit Jürgenssen, Helmut Newton, Hans Op de Beeck, Stephanie Pflaum (at the Schowroom Berggasse 19), Markus Schinwald, Esther Shalev-Gerz, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Kay Walkowiak and Francesca Woodman illustrate the current and reciprocal influence of psychoanalysis and art.

Just as this specific feeling of anxiety - not least in view of the current world situation - penetrates to the surface of human consciousness, it is also reflected in contemporary art. The international positions on display confront the uncanny in metaphorical compositions of deformed or exposed bodies as well as in subtle stagings that often only gradually reveal the horror. mehr

As early as 1919, Freud referred to the ability of the arts to express the uncanny in his text of the same name (“Das Unheimliche”). To him, the descriptions of poetry in particular appear to be even richer than the actual experience. Both the literary examples he cites and the analysis of the meaning of the term "uncanny" lead him to the same conclusion: the uncanny can be traced back to both the familiar (the homely/heimisch in German) and the repressed (the secret/unheimlich). Above all, the "veiled character" of this sensation triggers horror in us. Numerous works of contemporary art confirm Freud's insights, either focusing directly on the uncanny or evoking the feeling through almost inconspicuous irritations, whose meaning only becomes apparent on closer inspection and sheds light on the uncanny sensation.

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