December 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

In May 2009, I was invited to participate in a group show that was slightly different. Each artist was given 24 hours to create an artwork around a word that was given. I received a text message from the curator at 6pm telling me that the word was “Panic” and that the work should be completed and in the gallery by 6pm the following day.

Aside from those instructions, no others were given. Artists were free to play with ideas and create whatever they desired. The 24 time limit seemed short, at first, then long, once you broke it down into hourly components, and then it became incredibly short again, as you realise that the idea you have may not be executed within the time frame. It was also apt that the word was panic, since that’s the feeling you get upon seeing the hours pass by.

I went for a slightly more literal interpretation of the word, although the word itself describes an abstract emotion and state of mind. Panic generally comes about when the mind works itself into a state of frenzy caused by an intense emotion or experience. It can manifest itself in may ways, and quite often these can seem as if they don’t relate and hard to fathom, but are in fact integral to the intense emotions that cause panic.

There is a habit in contemporary society to over exaggerate the conditions in which we live. Just because the dangers are there, and we know that they are there, does not mean that any precautionary measure we employ is going lessen the probability of us coming upon danger of some kind. Quite often, these measures accrue meanings and narratives, and can lead to states of panic. Everyday things like a cellphone running out of credit or battery power wouldn’t be such an issue if we didn’t subconsciously absorb the fear that we weren’t going to be able to contact anyone if we needed to, and would be metaphorically “cut off from the world”. Most of the time, we don’t even know that we’ve absorbed that fear, because its not a fear that we were born with, nor were we born with a cellphone glued to our sweaty little palms. But its something that occurs over years of living in a society and absorbing the culture around us. Sometimes these little states of panic, where something accumulates emotion to the point of becoming overwhelming and incomprehensible, can be used in allegory or in fables.

In some ways, that’s what I was trying to do with my drawing. The state of panic is fascinating to me, because its largely borne out of fear and that fear can feed unnecessary paranoia. And paranoia can be the base for some great storytelling. Because of the time period, there really wasn’t the opportunity to take the time and over-analyse what I was doing; I was just concerned with putting the idea down onto paper. But even in doing so, the narrative developed, between the different characters and what they were doing. The drawing is in a way about panic, but in another way about the greater concept of fear, and in another way about how these things are articulated, as well as how I articulate them.

Sarah Murray wrote an article about the exhibition, including the artwork that was made. You can find it here:


All images Copyright 2017, Aleksandra Petrovic


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