Panic Hits Home

4-channel video installation

30-minute loop

In Renate Ferro’s installation Panic Hits Home, the question is asked, what happens when the government maps out messages of panic via the media in a way that disrupts the boundaries between interior/ exterior, psychic/social, and private/public.  The impetus for the project was inspired by childhood memories of the artist’s mother stockpiling food and water in the family’s fruit cellar during the Cuban Missile Crisis and her unexpected paranoia of the terror stemming from 9/11 forty years later. “I was struck by the eerie similarity of the urgency for ordinary citizens to be prepared for impending doom.”

Playing on the retrospective confusions between trauma then and now, juxtaposed television footage and public service announcements promoting “duck and cover” and bomb-shelter protection are montaged with the high-tech television and web directives of our contemporary Department of Homeland Security.  Combining and connecting the analog with the digital pulses or pauses, allowing the viewer to maneuver through the digital data to contemplate, reflect and formulate new discourses of panic.   From collecting water jugs and food supplies to applying duct tape and plastic insulation to prevent air born toxins from infiltrating the private space of the home, recommendations from educational public service announcements lay the foundation for states of urgency and panic.  

This television monitor becomes a metaphor for a sheltered psycho-space which houses the series of videotaped interviews of cross-generational subjects who reveal stories about their personal responses to the panic of both time periods.  There is an ironic similarity to the psychological tone and content of these interviews from each period.  Whether regarding security and protection from the fallout of impending nuclear warheads or the possibility of additional terrorist attacks forty years later, the installation becomes a catalyst for the confusing inter-mix of fright and anxiety both present and past.  In the installation space the viewer’s body traverses the material space to discover digital realms of vision and narration that uncover the layers of their own memory.