There has never been another era in modern history, even during wartime or the Great Depression, when so many people have feared so much. Three out of four people say they feel more fearful today than they did twenty years ago. An Archaeology of Fear visualises the high costs of living in a fear-ridden environment where realism has become rarer than doors without deadbolts.
Why are we so fearful these days? Are we living in exceptionally dangerous times? Watching the news, you would certainly think so. It feels, however, more that our perception of danger has been sharpened, heightened and moulded by unseen hands instead of our societies being as menacing as we are told they are. There is a rift between the perception of fear and the reality of fear, aggravated by our ever-increasing consumption of images and information in today’s digital world. An Archeology of Fear is a visual expose of the people and organisations that manipulate our perceptions and profit from our fears; politicians who win elections by exacerbating concerns about crime and drug use even as rates for both are declining, advocacy groups that raise money by exaggerating the prevalence of particular diseases and TV newsmagazines that monger a new scare every week to garner higher ratings.
Monumental sums of money are spent on unnecessary programs and products that will allegedly alleviate our worries as our time and energy are dragged into a perpetual state of fear. All the while we are distracted from the true issues of today; climate change, inequality, human rights violations, mass species extinction, water scarcity, mental health and poverty amongst countless others. We have become apathetic to the real suffering in the world, whilst consuming the anxiety we are instructed to eat.
Jan Rosseel studied documentary photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, the Netherlands and Photojournalism at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark. He was the first artist to be awarded a research fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences. His pictures have been published in the New York Times, Le Monde, IMA Magazine, Esquire Russia, L’Echo, De Volkskrant / Volkskrant Magazine, Vrij Nederland, de Morgen, Le Vif, de Standaard / DS Magazine, De Tijd, P/f, PhotoQ, GUP Magazine, Huffington Post and FOAM Magazine. He is a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague and has been guest lecturer at the Master of Photography AKV St. Joost in Breda and MA Photography Luca School of Arts in Brussels.