if you want to see the future of art, look no further than the new museum triennial
Step inside the New York exhibition spotlighting the world’s most compelling early-career artists, from Juliana Huxtable to normcore founders K-Hole.
Tuesday night, New York's bright young creatives flocked to the opening of the New Museum's 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience, an exhibition that features virtual reality goggles that transport wearers to Brazil's rainforests, an army of macho Teletubbies, and a whole lotta love for cyber princess Juliana Huxtable.
Now in its third iteration, the Triennial's sole focus is spotlighting the world's most compelling early-career artists — who this year included Afrofuturist Martine Syms and digital darlings DIS — providing many with their first museum exposure. Co-curated by New Museum curator Lauren Cornell and artist Ryan Trecartin, Surround Audience uses our ever-increasingly connected world of fast food, fast fashion, and faster wifi to explore art's constantly evolving role in the digital age.
Given that the exhibition features 51 artists from 25 different countries and spans the museum's seven floors, it'd be impossible to give a full rundown of all the hilarious, unsettling and beautiful pieces we saw. Instead, we've rounded up the five things not to miss at this year's Triennial:
K-Hole's advertising campaign: Before the world warped normcore into an adjective describing basically anyone pairing athletic socks with New Balances, normcore was a nuanced cultural concept coined by trend forecasting agency K-Hole. Trecartin and Cornell called on the five-piece collective to create the Triennial's campaign, which involved plastering the group's advertisements in subway stations, buses and billboards all around the city. Starting off by exploring a Korean chat app called Line, K-Hole developed their own supersized emojis and built a pill character. Does this mean pharmaceuticals are trending this year? We'll see...
All Juliana Huxtable everything: The exhibition shows the 27-year-old transgender DJ, artist, and all around cyber princess a whole lotta love. Huxtable contributed a series of crazy colorful self portraits saturated with deep purples and bright yellows that blur the lines between human body and digital avatar. Opposite her images is Brooklyn-based contemporary maverick Frank Benson's life-size, 3D-printed nude sculpture of Huxtable. Benson nailed Huxtable's likeness so well (down to her signature purple lipstick) we were constantly on watch for a pulse and half expected the reclining beauty to hop right off her pedestal like one of those spray-painted statue people who post up in Times Square.
An army of Teletubbies: Philadelphia-based artist Josh Kline's Freedom is a creepy commentary on technological surveillance. Using facial recognition and substitution software, the artist rendered himself in President Obama's likeness and filmed himself giving a speech on social justice. The screen is flanked by an actual army of soldiers in full combat gear, but with the terrifying faces of Teletubbies. Each Tinky Winky Soldier Spy is equipped with a monitor on its bulletproof chest, looping videos of retired police officers reading current events commentary pulled from social media platforms. Fortunately, Kline skipped the laughing baby sun.
A free (virtual) trip to the Brazilian rainforest: Always wanted to see the treetop canopies but didn't have the cash to swing a World Cup trip? No worries; Daniel Steegmann Mangrané's Phantom (kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name) transports viewers to the Mata Atlantica rainforest through Oculus Rift, super high-tech goggles that have gamers lining up like rabid sneakerheads. Even if you don't take the installation for a spin, it's pretty hilarious watching other people stumble around exclaiming things like "Is that a monkey?" or, "What the fuck is going on?"
DIS' high-end hybrid bathroom/kitchen: No one pokes fun at art, culture, and capitalism quite like the brains behind multifaceted digital platform DIS, whose past efforts have included DISimages (a fully operational stock photo agency with fine artists shooting the hilarious scenarios) and DISown (a SkyMall style retail space that sells artists' takes on everyday products, like a Hood by Air salad bowl). For the Triennial, DIS collaborated with manufacturer Dornbracht to create a hybrid bed, bathroom, kitchen, and performance space. The Island (KEN), is a satirical take on ultra-sleek, life-improving modern design, and at times features a live performer cleansing in its horizontal shower.
2015 Triennial: Surround Audience runs through May 24, 2015. More information here.
Text Emily Manning
Image Juliana Huxtable, Untitled in the Rage (Nibiru Cataclysm) from the "UNIVERSAL CROP TOPS FOR ALL THE SELF CANONIZED SAINTS OF BECOMING" series, 2015. Inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist.