(edited by) Omar Kholeif – Art in the Age of Anxiety


Mörel Books/Sharjah Art Foundation/The MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-1907071805, English, 400 pages, 2021, USA

Omar Kholeif has produced an extensive body of exhibitions and books on the impact of the online dimension through the critical lens of contemporary artists. This book is an “expanded path” beyond the exhibition of the same name he curated at the Sharjah Art Foundation (initially postponed due to the pandemic), which involved sixty artists. Here he explores how the internet, and the radical changes it has brought to our lives over the past two decades, have triggered an exponentially growing anxiety due to the wide range of possible abuses, obvious or subtle, that can be perpetrated online. The architecture of the book attempts to continue the “labyrinthine corridors” of the exhibition space and is a collection of very different texts: from Kholeif’s academic essay to Douglas Coupland’s sequence of numbered short paragraphs to Cory Arcangel’s account of Andy Warhol’s lost computer graphics and Saira Ansari’s analysis of online grief. The texts are interspersed with photographic extracts of the works on display, creating a fertile alchemy between the different perspectives presented and the artworks themselves. It is a restless but fascinating journey through themes such as synthetic money, mental health in isolation, the evaporation of privacy and the performed self, interpreting what Kholeif brilliantly defines as the “free-falling present”.