The New Museum presents The Generational: Younger Than Jesus, an exhibition representing fifty international artists who were all born around 1980. Underpinning the exhibition theme is the idea that artist make firm gestures in the early stages of their artistic development. The exhibition gives insight into how this generation of artists experienced and reinterpreted, through their art work, personal and world events that occured during their lifetime so far. Within that reinterpretation, issues of memory , and cross-cultural and cross-generational communication arise. Addressing these issues through questions of technology, identity, collaboration and family uncovers an intimacy in the work that is not obvious at first. Taking up a large part of the museum (the lobby, second floor, third floor, fourth floor and fifth floor), the exhibition will run through 5 July 2009.
The Generational: Younger than Jesus
The New Museum
235 Bowery, New York
8 April 2009 – 5 July 2009
Exhibition Page and Media [The New Museum]
Exhibtion Blog [The New Museum]
Announcement of the Opening [Art Newspaper]
Questioning the Durablity of Young Artists [Two Coats of Paint]
A “Wunderkind” Review [C-Monster]
BLT Gallery “Wiser than God” responds [Two Coats of Paint]
Video Review of the Exhibition [The World’s Best Ever]
Jerry Saltz reviews the Exhibition [New York Magazine]
A “Refreshing” Show [NY Art Beat]
New Art is Complete Anarchy [New Yorker]
A “Vibrant” and “Energetic” Show [NY Art Beat]
“Useless Information” [ArtNet]
The Strengths and the Weaknesses [ArtNet]
An Impression of the Opening Night [New York Times]
Review of the Opening Night [Art Forum]
Although the exhibition’s scale offers a myriad of young artistic expressions, there are themes that can be discerned. The appropriation of older technologies and questions around the function of technology in contemporary society can been seen throughout the work of Cory Arcangel, Mark Essen, Ruth Ewan, Icaro Zorbar, Guthrie Lonergan, Ryan Trecartin and AIDS-3D. In OMG Obelisk (2007), AIDS-3D comments on how technology in today’s society has reached a nearly religious status. The installation resembles a monument, thereby suggestive of the worship of technology. Related to these same technologies is the emergence of alternative identities in digital worlds. Ryan Trecartin problematizes the construction of identities in videos of absurd characters caught up in equally absurd scenes. In Cao Fei’s photography series COSPLAYERS (2004), digital characters enter the real world.
A second theme throughout the show is the question of identity. One of the larger works in the exhibition, Large Collage (2008) made up out of eighteen panels by Josh Smith, is an example of a work that tackles artistic identity. In an abstract expression made up out of found objects, he plays with art historical precedents, such as the gestural of Neo-Expressionism and the celebrity status of Pop Art, and by doing so questions his own artistic identity. Faye Driscoll and LaToya Ruby Frazier employ their families to explore their identities.
Video artist Katerina Šedá works with her grandmother in an attempt to lay bare family bonds and to examine the workings of memory. In her video It Doesn’t Matter (2005-07), Šedá films her grandmother drawing as many objects from her kitchen as she can remember. Cyprien Gaillard, Tigran Khachatryan, Patricia Esquivias and Luke Fowler also employ video in their artistic work.
Younger than Jesus has received a wide variety of reviews that all center around the question of what the show has to say about the meaning of art. Jerry Saltz in New York Magazine commented: “Art is being reanimated by a sense of necessity, free of ideology or the compulsion to illustrate theory. Art is breaking free”, whereas Peter Schjeldahl of the New Yorker lamented about “an ingenuity- and drollery-loving generation that was weaned on the Internet and is game for the bust of the boom in which it was reared.” Considering the scale of the show and the wide range of the artists, media and works, such stark responses become nearly inevitable.
By Gabriëlle Lucille for Art Observed