2018 is the bicentennial of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Why does a 200-year-old ghost story continue to feel so relevant? It’s important to remember that the Frankenstein of Hollywood and pop culture – Boris Karloff, The Munsters or Rocky Horror Picture Show – is quite different from the novel. Beyond the fact that the tale has captured popular imagination, the novel’s lasting impact is grounded in the fact that it is a parable about human nature. And the most important question it asks is who is the real monster?
The exhibition begins, as it must, with contemporary artists looking at the body and our attempts to conquer death; advances in science and technology; the animation of objects or machines and artificial intelligence. Thence comes an examination of ambition that outstrips the ability to understand or control what we’ve created and finally, what happens when we don’t take responsibility for the consequences of our actions.
Central to both the novel and the curatorial stance of this exhibition is the failure to feel empathy for the ostensibly unlovable — the other. Who is to blame for the rage born of feelings of rejection and how do we expect that anger to play out in society?
Artists include Janine Antoni, Rina Banerjee, Louise Bourgeois, Julian Charrière, Edmund Clark, Bruce Conner, Russell Crotty, Tim Hawkinson, Isabella Kirkland, Barbara Kruger, Michael Light, John O’Reilly, Patricia Piccinini, Alan Rath, Kiki Smith, Surabhi Saraf and Cornelius Völker.