Exhibition: ‘Hauntology’ at Berkeley Museum of Art, University of California, Berkeley

Exhibition dates: 14th July – 5th December, 2010


Bernard Maybeck. 'Frontispiece for "Circe, A Dramatic Fantasy" by Isaac Flagg' 1910


Bernard Maybeck (American, 1862-1957)
Frontispiece for “Circe, A Dramatic Fantasy” by Isaac Flagg
17 7/8 x 22 3/4″
Gift of Estate of Mabel H. Dillinger



Like the word, love the concept – the proposition that the present is simultaneously haunted by the past and the future: “the persistence of a present past.”


Many thankx to the Berkeley Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Carrie Mae Weems. 'The Capture of Angela' 2008


Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953)
The Capture of Angela
Archival pigment print
40 x 40 in.
Purchase made possible through a bequest from Phoebe Apperson Hearst
Photo courtesy Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco


Francis Bacon. 'Study for Figure V' 1956


Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Study for Figure V
Oil on canvas
60 x 46 1/2″
Gift of Joachim Jean Aberbach


Paul Schiek. 'Similar to a Baptism' 2007


Paul Schiek (American, b. 1977)
Similar to a Baptism
Chromogenic print
30 x 40″
Collector’s Circle purchase: bequest of Phoebe Apperson Hearst, by exchange.



Hauntology, essentially the logic of the ghost, is a concept as ephemeral and abstract as the term implies. Since it was first used by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida in a 1993 lecture delivered at UC Riverside concerning the state of Marxist thought in the post-Communist era, the term hauntology has been widely discussed in philosophical and political circles, as well as becoming a major influence in the development of various sub-genres of electronic music.

This exhibition focuses primarily on the museum’s recent contemporary acquisitions, mixing these with a number of other works representing a wide range of periods and styles. Although the artists included in Hauntology do not necessarily see themselves as part of a larger movement, when viewed collectively a number of resonances appear, not unrelated to the musical interpretations of the theme. Works in Hauntology frequently incorporate archaic imagery, styles, or techniques and evoke uncertainty, mystery, inexpressible fears, and unsatisfied longing.

For Derrida himself, hauntology is a philosophy of history that upsets the easy progression of time by proposing that the present is simultaneously haunted by the past and the future. Specifically, Derrida suggests that the specter of Marxist utopianism haunts the present, capitalist society, in what he describes as “the persistence of a present past.” The notion of hauntology also can be seen as describing the fluidity of identity among individuals, marking the dynamic and inevitable shades of influence that link one person’s experience to another’s, both in the present and over time.

In the fifteen years since Derrida first used this term, hauntology, and the related term, hauntological, have been adopted by the British music critic Simon Reynolds to describe a recurring influence in electronic music created primarily by artists in the United Kingdom who use and manipulate samples culled from the past (mostly old wax-cylinder recordings, classical records, library music, or postwar popular music) to invoke either a euphoric or unsettling view of an imagined future. The music has an anachronistic quality hinting at an unrecognisable familiarity that is often dreamlike, blurry, and melancholic – what Reynolds describes as “an uneasy mixture of the ancient and the modern.”

This exhibition marks the first time that a museum has presented works of visual art within the framework of hauntology. Works by Luc Tuymans, Paul Sietsema, Carrie Mae Weems, Bruce Conner, Robert Gutierrez, Diane Arbus, Travis Collinson, Paul Schiek, Arnold Kemp, and others form loose groups in which one can discern various thematic concentrations: the enigma of place and placelessness, memorial and longing, transitional beings, displacement and disappearance, demonic manifestations, auras, elegies of nature, and the translucency of the psyche.

Scott Hewicker, artist and musician
Lawrence Rinder, director, BAM/PFA

Press release from the Berkeley Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 22/11/2010 no longer available online


Unknown artist. 'View of Providence, Rhode Island' 1820


Unknown artist
View of Providence, Rhode Island
28 x 29 in.
Oil on wood panel
Gift of W.B. Carnochan


Paul Sietsema. 'Ship drawing' 2009


Paul Sietsema (American, b. 1968)
Ship drawing (detail)
Ink on paper
Diptych, ea: 50 3/4 x 70 in.
Museum purchase: bequest of Phoebe Apperson Hearst, exchange
Photo: © Paul Sietsema/Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York


Ad Reinhardt (American, 1913-1967) 'Black Painting' 1960-1966


Ad Reinhardt (American, 1913-1967)
Black Painting



Berkeley Museum of Art
2626 Bancroft Way
2621 Durant Avenue
University of California, Berkeley

Opening hours (Galleries, Museum Store):
Wednesday – Sunday 11am – 7pm
Closed Monday and Tuesday

Berkeley Museum of Art website


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2 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Hauntology’ at Berkeley Museum of Art, University of California, Berkeley”

  1. 1 lucio
    December 16, 2010 at 3:44 am

    hi where did you find the pictures of the show, i really want to see the show, do you have any source where i can at least look at them online? thanks a lot

    • 2 bunyanth
      December 16, 2010 at 8:28 am

      Hi these are the press images of the exhibition that I could get from the gallery. I don’t think there are any more images online. Marcus

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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