New Museum, New York, USA

  • 1.jpg
    Title : 1.jpg
  • 10
    Title : 10
  • 11.jpg
    Title : 11.jpg
  • 13
    Title : 13
  • 2.jpg
    Title : 2.jpg
  • 20
    Title : 20
  • 23
    Title : 23
  • 3.jpg
    Title : 3.jpg
  • 4.jpg
    Title : 4.jpg
  • 5.jpg
    Title : 5.jpg
  • 6.jpg
    Title : 6.jpg
  • 7.jpg
    Title : 7.jpg
  • 9.jpg
    Title : 9.jpg
  • Chu Yun Cory Arcangel
    Title : Chu Yun Cory Arcangel
  • Fabiola 3
    Title : Fabiola 3
  • Trecartin Re Search Photo by Benoit Pailley copy
    Title : Trecartin Re Search Photo by Benoit Pailley copy
  • cao fei cso players  tartatart copy
    Title : cao fei cso players tartatart copy
  • jpg.10
    Title : jpg.10
  • jpg.20
    Title : jpg.20
  • jpg.9
    Title : jpg.9

The Generational: Younger than Jesus.

The New Museum was founded in 1977 by Marcia Tucker conceived ‘as a place with a scope lying somewhere between grassroots alternative spaces for contemporary art and major museums that show only artists of proven historical value.’ has a history of supporting artists at the beginning of their careers, artists such as Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Agathe Snow and Richard Prince have all received support from the New Museum at early points in their career.

For its most recent show, a triennial exhibition of contemporary art entitled ‘The Generational: Younger than Jesus’, the New Museum, based in the heart of the Bowery in New York presents ‘the first major exhibition devoted exclusively to the generation born around 1980’.

This is the first instalment of a wide-ranging and ambitious attempt to explore new work by upcoming artists in the new Millennium. This inaugural show concerns itself with the demographic otherwise known as GenerationY or GenerationMe or even iGeneration. Much is known and written about what this generation consumes, but little is know about what this generation of artists makes, despite the fact that many of the artists in this show have already shown in various commercial and public spaces, and many also already have gallery representation.

If the Baby Boomers were associated with destroying traditional values and establishing new ones, and GenerationX found it difficult to establish itself and almost imploded in a cloud of self-inflicted doubt, then what are the Millennials, the largest demographic of people born since the Baby Boomers interested in making.

For a generation brought up where instant communication is taken for granted, and where current concerns over war, the environment and terrorism are ubiquitous, the work in this show reveals broad interests which suggest several loose affiliations based on an interest in hybrid communities, the redefinition of the family unit, a new passion for language and documentation, and a return to abstraction.

The exhibition is organised by Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Giorno and Laura Hoptman with the aim of ‘tapping into the different perspectives, shared preoccupations, and experiences of a constituency that is shaping the contemporary art discourse and prescribing the future of global culture’. For this exhibition, 500 artists all under 33 and from 25 countries were chosen by a ‘network’ of 150 critics, curators and artist’s or ‘Informants/ Correspondents’ which was then reduced to 50 artists. The exhibition has a ‘global’ feel, with artist’s hailing from countries as diverse as Algeria, Columbia, China, Lebanon, Turkey and Venezula.

Ryan Trecartin, from Philadelphia, draws heavily on digital culture. He makes ‘Neo-Psychedelic’ films with friends and family who take the place of actors. His films are populated by ‘hysterical characters’ that inhabit a virtual world devoid of any meaning or reference, except hysteria itself. His previous works include ‘A Family Finds Entertainment’ (2004) and ‘I-Be-AREA’ (2007). For this exhibition Trecartin presents ‘Sibling topics (Section A and Section B)’ (2009) which forms the centrepiece of this show.

There is quite a lot of video/ film in this exhibition, and Luke Fowler, a Glasgow-based artist also tells stories with moving images, but his focus is less on the ‘constantly connected culture’ and is more concerned with traditional systems of interpretation: psychiatry and psychoanalysis, he sees language as ‘a riddle that offers access to the unconscious’. For the Generational Fowler presents a film entitled ‘What You See is where you’re at’ which is about an experimental Mental Hospital in London.

Cory Arcangel’s work seems to immerse itself in the potential for new technologies to provide abstract pleasures, not just language based on chat-room culture. His piece ‘Photoshop CS: 72 by 110 inches, 300 DPI, RGB square pixels, default’ (2009) Fails, references and utilises current technologies but also seems to make clear references to a more sublime experience, not too dissimilar to an experience felt through more ‘traditional’ mediums such as paint. There is a subtle homage to abstract painters of the 1950’s and 1960’s, artists such as Jules Olitski and Morris Louis.

Cao Fei’s mixes ‘social commentary, popular aesthetics, surrealism, and documentary conventions’ in her films and installations. For this show she presents a series of manipulated photographs from the ‘CSO Players’, photographs depicting Chinese costumed characters juxtaposed next to their parents. Cao Fei seems to be uneasy with ‘virtual worlds’ and the role-playing that this entails. But she is also uneasy and apprehensive about traditional representations of ‘reality’. As Massimiliano Giorno suggests in his essay which accompanies this exhibition, ‘a humanity emerges that has almost been reduced to a caricature of itself: confused between reality and representation’.

Like many of the artists in this show, Katerina Seda’s work is about collaboration. Interestingly enough, Seda is less concerned with the breakdown of tradition and its tenuous relationship with new technologies, and seems to suggest that ‘grandparents and parents are the keepers of knowledge, that must be preserved at all costs’. ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ (2005-2007), is a series of 600 drawings made by her grandmother as ‘a kind of therapeutic response to depression and apathy’. Seda asked her grandmother to draw objects she could remember in a home supplies store where her grandmother worked for 33 years. The result is tender and extremely personal, and makes no apologies or distinction between artist and collaborator.

There is much to praise in this show, each artist displaying a high level of maturity and professionalism. One thing that is surprising is the confidence with which each artist manages to negotiate the new territories they are encountering, and the ease with which they manage to establish and utilize new networks. Sure there are doubts, but mostly the show displays a group of artists ready to embrace this new terrain with eyes wide open.

Published on