Yes, the New Museum’s big show is heady—but we’re here to help.
Ben Davis & Caroline Goldstein, February 12, 2018
Still from Wong Ping’s “An Emo Nose” (2015). Courtesy of the artist
If you think the state of global affairs is grim, just wait for the charge of dejection, anger, and satire that powers the fourth edition of the New Museum Triennial. “Songs for Sabotage,” as the show is called, features a “deliberately narrow” roster of 26 artists, ranging in age from 26 to 36, and hailing from 19 countries; a scant four are US-born. Many of them have something to vent about the state of the world (and worlds to come) that is not exactly, shall we say, perky.
Organized by New Museum curator Gary Carrion-Murayari, who had helped assemble the 2010 Whitney Biennial, and Alex Gartenfeld, chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, the show is packed with ideas. Some sense of its heady vibe (and House of Cards fandom?) is telegraphed by Gartenfeld in the catalogue:
’Songs for Sabotage’ proposes a species of realism that detaches from the tradition of ideological naturalism to involve the systems that define our time through (dis)connection. Globally, each of us is living through a Netflix Original remake of a once-allegorical political thriller, with the felt result being the eroding of basic freedoms and the increased suffering of already-marginalized populations.