SFMOMA OPEN SPACE collaboration with Meg Schiffler and Ishan Clemenco

I Choose for You: Meg Chooses for Cheryl (Part 3)

Text and images by Cheryl Meeker

In a simple way, Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s video installation, Lahja (The Present), might either be viewed as an investigation of internal psychological sources for patterns of behavior that exhibit as phobias, or as a hinting at repressive societal norms which manifest in the development of compensatory phobic behaviors. My interest in fear and its outcomes lies away from the focus on the psychological and on the personal that is reflected here and in the media’s endless obsession with celebrity culture and personality politics. Far from an interest in how the implications of the individual will play out externally in the personality or in society, my fascination turns more on the ways that systems of regulation, deregulation, and of ideology work socially, politically, and economically to create fear in the individual. Perhaps the subtext we have in common is that we can only strengthen our ability to work out solutions to problems that have created fears by not avoiding them. And the possibility of transcending these fearful states through actual problem solving is the present we are able to give each other. We forgive ourselves when we look to the systemic problems as the culprit, and realize that they, far more than the individual, create fear in ourselves and abroad, and that power elites have everything to gain by pointing to the individual as the root of economic and social malaise.

— Cheryl Meeker, June 18, 2011

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