Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Menu Close

401 Broadway #1620
New York, NY 10013
+1 212 254 8200


Curator J.J. Kegan McFadden developed this proposal during the Summer 2010 Curatorial Intensive in New York. The proposal eventually became the exhibition Cabin Fever at Platform Center, Winnepeg, MB on view from October  30 – December 11, 2010 and at Neutral Ground, Regina, SK on view from October 28 – December 9, 2011.

Cabin Fever is a group exhibition featuring a mixture of emerging and established artists whose work examines boredom, malaise, as well as social and mental isolation.

The premise of this exhibition is to explore how artists can offer insight into the universal condition of cabin fever. Are these artists reveling in its throes, or are they fighting boredom with seemingly inane gestures? The ways in which these artists choose to combat cabin fever vary: some take pleasure in the smaller things as is the case with Deirdre Logue who counts confetti in an ongoing video installation started in 2006. While other artists create a world of their own where what was mundane is transformed into the fantastic as seen in the photographic tableaux by Rebekka Unrau uses her bedroom and all of its holdings as the source material. Some try daring themselves into excitement, like Jon Sasaki with his ladder climbing and other would-be terrifying exercises in performance captured on video. Sometimes it boils down to the physical rejection of accepted expectations, which is apparent in Ryan Park’s photo project categorizing the manipulations of his fists. This may lead to conversations with yourself as is the case with both Terence Koh’s evocative and privately staged performance video and Elizabeth Milton’s video portrait of suburban despair. What we all want to do once the cabin fever sets in is escape, and this is made apparent in Zoe Jaremus’ poignant photograph of the artist crawling into her suitcase.

Given the emphasis society now places on digital social networks, instant access to information via email, twitter, and Google, as well as socially-accepted and medically-endorsed dependencies on mood elevators and other anxiety-squelching antidotes, it is important to consider alternative methods in dealing with feelings of isolation … perhaps the key is absurdity after all.

Curatorial Statement

Cabin Fever
noun. (ca. 1918)

Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from a lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a remote, sparsely populated region or a confined indoor area.


Distress or anxiety caused by prolonged confinement in a small or remote place, as in “We've been snowed in for a week and everyone has cabin fever.” Originating in the West, this term at first alluded to being penned up in a remote cabin during a long winter but has since been applied more broadly.

(The Canadian prairies offer a paradox of being isolated by its so-called land-locked geography and climate of extremes, yet its denizens are recognized for their creative productivity. What is it about being isolated that stirs creativity among us? Born and raised in Winnipeg, a Canadian city located in the geographic center of North America with a population of approximately 750,000 of which a disproportionately high number per capita are artists, I have often found myself preoccupied with the notion of cabin fever and drawn to research artists whose work provides insight into this all-encompassing state of malaise.)

The work in this exhibition offers glimpses into the psyche of boredom, and the resultant attempts at ever-possible yet seemingly elusive fulfillment. Is it feasible to satiate such undulating hunger derived from being nowhere by creating your own somewhere? Can the varying symptoms of cabin fever be diagnosed? How do you pinpoint ennui? Those whose work is included in this exhibition offer suggestions, exit strategies, and further problems in creating their own antidotes to cabin fever -- this unquantifiable ailment from which have all felt beleaguered by at some time or another.

Cabin fever is not only symptomatic of those living in sparsely-populated regions, but may be argued, is a perennial unease also found in larger urban centers, in no small part due to rampant commercialism and inescapable fast-paced environments. Yes, being just another face in the crowd can bring about cabin fever.

The solution requires activity and making do with your surroundings. The exhibited artists create situations within their environments and they perform tasks far more ridiculous and seemingly meaningless than anything that could ever be manifest out of the mind-bending neuroses of cabin fever. Performance, whether the body is center-stage or even absent, is the primary vehicle for curing cabin fever. These artistic investigations through mobility, sex, architecture, and even unabashed optimism may just be what we’ve all been looking for … the results of cabin fever may just be the cure!

On view


PLATFORM centre for photographic + digital arts
Winnipeg, Canada
30 October - 11 December 2010

neutral ground
Regina, Canada
September 2011


Technical Specs


  • 100 to 150 running feet (minimum)

  • Wall-mounted flat screen monitors, in a uniform size (x8 or 12 space permitting) [Logue]

  • Data projector (x1) [Milton]

  • Headphones (x1) [Milton]

  • CRT television (x1) [Sasaki]

  • Flat screen monitor (x1) [Koh]

  • DVD players (x 9 minimum, x13 maximum) [Logue, Milton, Sasaki, Koh]

  • The exhibition fee is US $10,000 + shipping




For further information about this project or The Curatorial Intensive, please email