A Portrait of a Phobic Moment
Dale Bogaski (BFA 1968, MFA 1971)
Does anxiety enhance emotional memory? No individual can escape fear. This figure, close to the edge of a cold, black, empty space, illustrates that external stimuli can activate fears long ago internalized. He is experiencing a phobic reaction, which is an expression of the egos instincts of self-preservation.
Fear is rational and comprehensible. It is a natural reaction to the perception of external danger - harm that is expected and foreseen. The anxiety of a narrow passage, alone in darkness and solitude, is perhaps linked to the first condition of fear experienced in infancy, during birth and separation from the mother.
The "out there" void creates a disturbing sense of actually being nowhere. It creates an existential vertigo. But, since black empty space is a state of no definition - it's infinite and boundless - is it an absence of essence? If nothing is something, then can something come out of nothing?
The pathological fear of empty space triggers a false sense of dwindling oxygen supply - a suffocation alarm. Since extreme anxiety enhances memory, once a fearful memory is formed, it is permanent. When the memory of fear is ignited, it will awaken with a vengeance - will it be flight or fight or doom?
This work is featured as part of the 2016 Alumni Exhibition: “Horror Vacui”, on display from July 19 - August 6, 2016 at the Argus II Building in Ann Arbor. Check the exhibition page for dates, times, and hours.