Make Time For The 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience, at The New Museum

Art by Josh Kline at the New Museum

This has become the New Museum's signature exhibition, their exhaustively curated Triennial, offering an of-the-minute (and even predictive) look at some of the freshest, most provocative ideas in contemporary art. Now in its third iteration and once again taking over the entire building, the 2015 New Museum Triennial gathers together the work of fifty one "early career" artists from more than twenty five countries, many of whom have never shown their stuff in the United States before, so you, like me, have probably never seen, nor even heard of, most of the young men and women who have contributed to this enormous survey. Which is a good thing! Because while going to something like Matisse at MoMA is undeniably a NYC cultural must, seeing the other end of the art-museum spectrum is equally vital as well. 

Painting at the New Museum

Surround Audience at The New Museum 

The New Museum's 2015 Triennial is called Surround Audience for reasons I don't quite understand (it's not terribly immersive, or interactive, though there is a cool Virtual Reality piece for which you don an Oculus Rift headset), except that a lot of the work concerns the ways in which technology, and the internet, have made the line between our physical selves and the electronic ether where so much of our interactions take place an increasingly fuzzy one. Also, in this era of late-stage capitalism (signified by rampant consumerism, globalism, and the surveillance culture that keeps dissenting voices from getting too loud), how can an individual maintain their sense of self, and worth? And are we able to opt out of it all if want to choose privacy, and modest sustainability? Many mediums are represented here: painting, sculptural pieces, installations, video and sound, poetry, performance, and, it should be obvious, lots of works incorporate a multitude of elements.        

Art by Frank Benson at the New Museum

What To See At The New Museum's 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience

I've been to the 2015 Triennial twice now and found the exhibition as a whole to be thrilling, the sort of show that rewards both a casual walk through–there seem to be surprises around every corner, on every floor, plus there are plenty of good Instagram moments, if that's your thing–as well as more circumspect, thoughtful viewing. Between reading the text-heavy (but usually worth-it) wall cards, watching some of the videos, and, if you get lucky (or are good at planning), seeing a performance or two, a visit to the Triennial can last at least a couple of hours, and probably more. My favorites pieces were probably Frank Benson's beautiful, metallic sculpture of transgendered artist Juliana Huxtable, whose own work appears on the wall in the same gallery; and Josh Kline's police-state "Teletubbies", set in a mini Zuccotti Park, belly video screens flickering, with a bizarro-world Obama speech–an altered version of his first inaugural address in 2009–playing on the back wall. 

Coral artwork at the New Museum

For More Information on The New Museum's 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience

The New Museum's 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience will be be on view through May 24. The New Museum is located on Bowery between Rivington and Stanton, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except for Thursday when it stays open late, until 9:00 p.m., and is "pay-what-you-wish" after 7:00. More information can be found here.

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