Haunted Exhibition Explores Themes of Memory, Trauma and Return to the Past


Exhibition Opens in Two Parts and Features Marina Abramović, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Christian Boltanski, Sophie Calle, Paul Chan, Tacita Dean, Thomas Demand, Stan Douglas, Douglas Gordon, Roni Horn, Joan Jonas, Sally Mann, Christian Marclay, Susan Philipsz, Robert Rauschenberg, Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, and Lawrence Weiner, as Well as Commissioned Performances by Sharon Hayes, Joan Jonas, and Tris Vonna-Michell


Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance


Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York


Full Rotunda and all ramps


Part I: March 26–September 6, 2010
Part II: June 4–September 1, 2010


Thursday, March 25, 10 am–1 pm

Download a PDF of this press release.

(NEW YORK, NY – March 23, 2010) –– Much of contemporary photography and video seems haunted by the past, by the history of art, by apparitions that are reanimated in reproductive mediums, live performance, and the virtual world. By using dated, passé, or quasi-extinct stylistic devices, subject matter, and technologies, such art embodies a longing for an otherwise unrecuperable past.

From March 26 to September 6, 2010, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance, an exhibition that documents this obsession, examining myriad ways photographic imagery is incorporated into recent practice. Drawn largely from the Guggenheim’s extensive photography and video collections, Haunted features some 100 works by nearly 60 artists, including many recent acquisitions that will be on view at the museum for the first time. The exhibition is installed throughout the rotunda and its spiraling ramps, with two additional galleries on view from June 4 to September 1, featuring works by two pairs of artists to complete Haunted’s presentation.

Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/ Performance is organized by Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography, and Nat Trotman, Associate Curator.

This exhibition is made possible by the International Director’s Council of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Additional support is provided by grants from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and the William Talbott Hillman Foundation. The Leadership Committee for Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video Performance is gratefully acknowledged.

The works in Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance range from individual photographs and photographic series to sculptures and paintings that incorporate photographic elements; projected videos; films; performances; and site-specific installations, including a new sound work created by Susan Philipsz for the museum’s rotunda. While the show traces the extensive incorporation of photography into contemporary art since the 1960s, a significant part of the exhibition will be dedicated to work created since 2001 by younger artists.

Haunted is organized around a series of formal and conceptual threads that weave themselves through the artworks on view:

Appropriation and the Archive: In the early 1960s, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol began to incorporate photographic images into their paintings, establishing a new mode of visual production that relied not on the then-dominant tradition of gestural abstraction but rather on mechanical processes such as screenprinting. In so doing, they challenged the notion of art as the expression of a singular, heroic author, recasting their works as repositories for autobiographical, cultural, and historical information. This archival impulse revolutionized art production over the ensuing decades, paving the way for a conceptually driven use of photography as a means of absorbing the world at large into a new aesthetic realm. Since then, a number of artists, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, Douglas Gordon, Luis Jacob, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and Sara VanDerBeek, have pursued this archival impulse, amassing fragments of reality either by creating new photographs or by appropriating existing ones.

Landscape, Architecture, and the Passage of Time: Historically, one of photography’s primary functions has been to document sites where significant, often traumatic events have taken place. During the Civil War, which erupted not long after the medium was invented, a new generation of reporters sought to photograph battles, but due to the long exposure times required by early cameras, they could only capture the aftermath of the conflicts. These landscapes, strewn with the dead, now seem doubly arresting, for they capture past spaces where something has already occurred. Their state of anteriority, witnessed at such an early stage in the medium’s development, speaks to the very nature of a photograph, which possesses physical and chemical bonds to a past that disappears as soon as it is taken. As viewers, we are left with only traces from which we hope to reconstruct the absent occurrences in the fields, forests, homes, and offices depicted in the works in the exhibition. With this condition in mind, many artists, among them James Casebere, Spencer Finch, Ori Gersht, Roni Horn, Luisa Lambri, An-My Lê, Sally Mann, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, have turned to empty spaces in landscape and architecture, creating poetic reflections on time’s inexorable passing and insisting on the importance of remembrance and memorialization.

Documentation and Reiteration: Since at least the early 1970s, photographic documentation, including film and video, has served as an important complement to the art of live performance, often setting the conditions by which performances are staged and sometimes obviating the need for a live audience altogether. Through an ironic reversal, artworks that revolved around singular moments in time have often come to rely on the permanence of images to transmit their meaning and sometimes even the very fact of their existence. For many artists, these documents take on the function of relics— objects whose meaning is deeply bound to an experience that is always already lost in the past. Works by artists such as Marina Abramović, Christian Boltanski, Sophie Calle, Tacita Dean, Joan Jonas, Christian Marclay, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ana Mendieta, and Gina Pane examine various aesthetic approaches inspired by the reiterative power of the photograph. Using photography not only to restage their own (and others’) performances but to revisit the bodily experience of past events, these artists have reconsidered the document itself as an object embedded in time, closely attending to its material specificity in their works.

Trauma and the Uncanny: When Andy Warhol created his silkscreen paintings of Marilyn Monroe in the wake of her death, he touched on the darker side of a burgeoning media culture that, during the Vietnam War, became an integral part of everyday life. Today, with vastly expanded channels for the propagation of images, events as varied as the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the deaths of celebrities such as Princess Diana and Michael Jackson have the ability to become traumatic on a global scale. Many artists, including Adam Helms, Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, Cady Noland, and Anri Sala, have reexamined the strategy of image appropriation Warhol pioneered, attending closely to the ways political conflict can take on global significance. At the same time, photography has altered, or as some theorists argue, completely reconfigured our sense of personal memory. From birth to death, all aspects of our lives are reconstituted as images alongside our own experience of them. This repetition, which is mirrored in the very technology of the photographic medium, effectively produces an alternate reality in representation that, especially when coping with traumatic events, can take on the force of the uncanny. Artists such as Stan Douglas, Anthony Goicolea, Sarah Anne Johnson, Jeff Wall, and Gillian Wearing exploit this effect, constructing fictional scenarios in which the pains and pleasures of personal experience return with eerie and foreboding qualities.

Additional Galleries Open June 4–September 1
Extending beyond the rotunda and ramps, the Haunted presentation will include the Guggenheim’s fifth and seventh level Tower annex galleries from June 4 through September 1, with additional works by Thomas Demand, Stan Douglas, Christian Marclay, and Jeff Wall on view. In conjunction with this second part of the exhibition, the Guggenheim will also present three performances during June and July by Sharon Hayes, Joan Jonas, and Tris Vonna-Michell.

Additional public programs, including extended Conversations with Contemporary Artists sessions featuring artists in Haunted, will be offered. Details will be announced soon; updates may be found on guggenheim.org/publicprograms.

Exhibition Tour
Following the presentation of Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/ Performance at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the exhibition will travel to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain, where it will be on view from November 2010 through March 2011.

Exhibition Catalogue
An illustrated, 208-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition and features essays by Jennifer Blessing and Nat Trotman as well as by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Peggy Phelan, Ann O’Day Maples Professor in the Arts and Professor in Drama and English, Stanford University; and Lisa Saltzman, Professor of History of Art and Director of the Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr College. The catalogue also includes color plates of additional works that will be shown during the installation of Haunted at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Priced at $50 and offered in a hardcover edition, the catalogue may be purchased at the Guggenheim Store or at the Online Store at guggenheimstore.org beginning in late March.

A full schedule of educational programs is being presented under the auspices of the Sackler Center for Arts Education during the run of Haunted. For updated information regarding ticketed programs, contact the Box Office at 212 423 3587, or visit guggenheim.org/education.

The Elaine Terner Cooper Education Fund
Conversations with Contemporary Artists

6:30 pm
Select artists featured in Haunted speak about their work. Receptions and exhibition viewings follow. Tickets are $10, $7 members, and free for students, and are available by calling the Box Office at 212 423 3587, with more information online at guggenheim.org/publicprograms.

Tues, Apr 13
Luis Jacob

Wed, Apr 28
Idris Khan

Tues, May 4
Sarah Charlesworth

Wed, May 26
Walead Beshty

Wed, June 9
Stan Douglas

Family Tour and Workshop

Sun, Apr 18
11 am–1:30 pm
Explore portraits and landscapes and find inspiration to incorporate family photographs into a mixed-media work of art. All materials included. For families with children ages 5–10. $30 per family, $20 members, free for family members. Registration is required by calling 212 423 3587.

Contemporary Photography and Creative Writing for Educators

Sat, May 15
10 am–1 pm
A workshop devoted to using the evocative images in Haunted to motivate creative writing in the classroom. $25, includes curriculum materials. Registration is required by calling 212 423 3637.

Thinking Performance at the Guggenheim
Thurs, June 17
8 pm (performance)
Fri, June 18
2 pm (symposium)
Encompassing issues pertaining to site specificity, live action, the place of memory, and the role of the document, presentations plus a performance by Joan Jonas provide an opportunity to think deeply about specific practices in contemporary performance. Featured speakers include: Marina Abramović, Jennifer Blessing, Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Susan Philipsz, Rebecca Schneider, Nancy Spector, and Nat Trotman. Tickets are $30, $20 for members, and $10 for students, and are available by calling the Box Office at 212 423 3587, with more information online at guggenheim.org/publicprograms.

Guided Tours

Free with museum admission

Curator’s Eye
Guggenheim museum curators lead tours of Haunted.
Nat Trotman: FRI, APR 30 and FRI, JUN 11, 2 pm
Jennifer Blessing: FRI, MAY 21, 2 pm

Conservator’s Eye
Guggenheim museum conservator Jeffrey Warda leads an exhibition tour focusing on how works of photography and film pertain to preservation.
Jeffrey Warda: FRI, JUN 18, 2 pm

Mind’s Eye
As part of the museum’s free programs for partially sighted, blind, and deaf visitors, Guggenheim museum educators Georgia Krantz and Guthrie Nutter guide an interactive tour and discussion focusing on Haunted, followed by a private reception. RSVP at 212 360 4355 or at access@guggenheim.org.
Georgia Krantz and Guthrie Nutter: MON, APR 12, 6–8 pm

Family Programs
Just Drop In!

Every Sunday, families with children ages 3–10 are invited to explore exhibition highlights through creative, interactive projects led by museum educators. Just Drop In! programs are free with museum admission, and do not require reservations. Additionally, Family Activity Packs are available at the Information Desk during the run of Haunted and are offered free with museum admission. Filled with suggestions for things to do and talk about when visiting the museum, including artwork-specific question cards, touch objects, games, picture books, sketchpads and pencils, the Haunted Family Activity Pack is recommended for families with children ages 5–10. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/families.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. Currently the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation owns and operates the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, and also provides programming and management for two other museums in Europe that bear its name: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by architect Frank Gehry, is scheduled to open 2012–13.


Admission: Adults $18, students/seniors (65+) $15, members and children under 12 free. Admission includes an audio tour of Haunted, available in English, and of highlights of the Guggenheim’s permanent collection, available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
Museum Hours: Sun–Wed, 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri, 10 am–5:45 pm; Sat, 10 am– 7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information, call 212 423 3500 or visit guggenheim.org.

March 23, 2010
Updated from March 9, 2010

Betsy Ennis, Director of Media & Public Relations
Lauren Van Natten, Senior Publicist
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
212 423 3840

For publicity images go to http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/pressroom/press-images
User ID = photoservice
Password = presspass

contact us

Have a media inquiry? Contact us for more information.

Press images

Press Images

Download high resolution, press-approved images.