New Museum NYC Goes Global: 34 Artists Converge Downtown
A nice counterpoint to the upcoming, always-heavily-hyped Biennial at the Whitney Museum, the much-appreciated if too-often-underwhelming New Museum on Bowery just unveiled The Ungovernables, a triennial survey of the state of global contemporary art, opening up all of its gallery space to some 34 artists, artist groups, and temporary collectives (for a total of more than 50 individual participants), all of whom were born between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s, and many of whom have never before exhibited in this country. In other words: they're young, their life experience is likely different than yours, and you've probably never seen, or even heard of, any of their works before in New York City art museums. Most important, after an afternoon spent wandering all of the New Museum's five exhibition floors, we're pleased to report that there are many more hits than misses at the New Museum Triennial this time out.
2012 Triennial Exhibition is Bringing Young Artists to Lower Manhattan
The central theme of The Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial couldn't be more timely: a look at how this generation of 25- to 35-year-old artists are reacting to and helping shape our current climate of civil disobedience, protest, revolt, anger, and demands for self-determination, as well as a concurrent, nagging sense of impermanence and uncertainty about the future. We like many of the pieces here, but clearly the show-stopper at the New Museum Triennial is Adrián Villar Roja's mammoth sculptural work, "A Person Loved Me", which looks to be not only some sort of fearsome, futuristic military machine, but also, with its cracking facade and cumbersome stature, like a relic of some increasingly irrelevant past, a once-mighty giant on the verge of collapse. Great stuff.
And there are many more interesting, amusing, provocative, weird pieces here as well. Other highlights at The Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial include Cinthia Marcelle and Tiago Mata Machado's wild video "O Século", in which unseen "combatants" hurl and smash all manner of debris–fluorescent light tubes, chunks of brick and concrete, wooden bowls, chairs–from the left side of the screen to the right, and then the image reverses itself, so the right now attacks the left; Pratchaya Phinthong's pile of clearly-worthless paper money, called "What I learned I no longer know; the little I know, I guessed", and which features stacks of 50 TRILLION Zimbabwe-dollar notes; Pilvi Takala's pranksterish "The Trainee", documenting via video and paperwork, the month she spent deliberately, blatantly NOT working at the accounting giant Deloitte (one whole day, for example, was spent riding the elevator); and Abigail DeVille's appropriately forbidding "Dark Day" which makes the best use we've ever seen of that tiny "gallery" half-way down the New Museum's grand stairway. There's a lot more, too. It's been a long time since, given the New Museum's $14 admission fee AND relatively (as compared to, say, the MoMA) small space, that we've felt comfortable giving our friends an unqualified "go" to an exhibition there, but The Ungovernables earns just that.
The Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial details
The Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial will be on exhibit through April 22. The New Museum is located at 235 Bowery, at the eastern end of Prince Street, and is open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and on Thursdays until 9:00 p.m. Admission is free from 7:00 until 9:00 every Thursday night. Closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, please the New Museum website, here.