Slightly Unbalanced

  • Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn, Winner, 2002. Courtesy the artists and Elizabeth Dee, New York.

  • Installation view, Museum London. Ontario, Canada.

  • Sarah Hobbs, Untitled (Overcompensation), 2006. Courtesy the artist and Solomon Projects, Atlanta.

  • Installation view, Museum London. Ontario, Canada.

  • Installation view, Hungtington Museum of Art

  • Installation view, Museum London. Ontario, Canada.

Curated by Susan Hapgood

All people have their own psychological quirks; we accept this as an essential element of human nature. During the past fifteen years, more and more artists have been probing these peculiarities, exploring neurosis as a primary subject of their art. Slightly Unbalanced features work that deals with a range of psychological tendencies, including anxiety, obsessive behavior, depression and narcissism. The artists question what constitutes normalcy, and what qualifies as neurosis, a slippery and suggestive endeavor.

The exhibition spans four distinct thematic sections, beginning with works by five internationally renowned individuals—Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Mike Kelley, Bruce Nauman, and Cindy Sherman—who have been pioneers in addressing psychology in their art, and who have strongly influenced other artists over the past ten or more years. For example, in most of the images in Sherman’s Untitled series from 2000, she plays various female personae who appear palpably uncomfortable in their own skin. Artists who play a performative role in their own videos, as Sherman frequently has in her photographs, are featured in the second section of this exhibition, often focusing on narcissism. The third section of the show offers works in diaristic or confessional formats, as if the viewer is bearing witness to different individuals’ inner monologues, as in Sean Lander’s paintings, videos, and sound works. The last section, which includes several sculptural installations, explores the house as a fertile metaphor for the mind—the domestic interior as a stand-in for the psyche.

The field of psychology is 150 years old, and many of its basic concepts and terminology are embedded in our presuppositions about how people think and act, what drives and motivates us. The artists whose works are presented in Slightly Unbalanced, in choosing to concentrate on neurosis, have tapped into a charged theme that provokes a range of responses, including discomfort, recognition, empathy, and humor. Their development of psychologically loaded subject matter provides a deeply enriched vocabulary for contemporary art.


Susan Hapgood

Susan Hapgood is Executive Director of the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York. She is also a Senior Advisor to ICI, and Founder and Director of the Mumbai Art Room. Prior to ISCP, Hapgood was ICI’s director of exhibitions, developing and managing the exhibitions program for seven years until 2010. She has worked in a curatorial capacity for institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, New Museum, and American Federation of Arts. The exhibitions she has curated include FluxAttitudes, Neo-Dada: Redefining Art 1958-62, Video Divertimento, and Slightly Unbalanced, and In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in Art, and her texts have appeared in publications including Art in America, Frieze, and FlashArt. She received a M.A. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University.


touring schedule

Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art
Richmond, VA, United States
January 26, 2010 - March 5, 2010

Museum London
London, Canada
December 6, 2009 - February 22, 2010

Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum
Lafayette, LA, United States
September 18, 2009 - December 31, 2009

Rodman Hall Arts Center
St. Catharines, Canada
June 12, 2009 - August 21, 2009

Huntington Museum of Art
Huntington, WV, United States
March 13, 2009 - May 24, 2009

Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago, IL, United States
January 26, 2008 - April 13, 2008

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