VIDEO: Is the New Museum Triennial Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

Are these young artists saying anything novel?


Was there ever a time when young artists fessed up to just rehashing the work of older artists? The answer is no, and yet the question forms the subtext—and sometimes actual substance—of artnet News critics Blake Gopnik and Christian Viveros-Fauné’s take on the 2015 New Museum Triennial, “Surround Audience.” Staged during what New Museum director Lisa Phillips calls “a turning point in culture,” the show claims to explore how technology is changing the ways art is made and experienced. This is the latest in a series of “Strictly Critical” videos, in which the two critics opine on- screen.

As Gopnik notes, though the art on view in “Surround Audience” tries to critique the chaos of the information age, the show often winds up replicating it. “The show is all about the world we live in,” he says. “We’re assaulted by sound, we’re assailed by a barrage of information; but I find that the problems of the world we’re living in are just repeated in this show.” An equally skeptical Viveros-Fauné says, “Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Both critics find that several of the Triennial’s flashier pieces fall short of being genuinely innovative. Yet they also agree that “Surround Audience” contains some real standouts. Best in show is Antoine Catala’s advertising logo for empathy, which is encrusted with living coral and presented in a fish tank. As it’s an artwork that also lives outside the museum as a communications campaign, a website and a GIF, Viveros-Fauné believes it to be “a new kind of art.” Gopnik agrees, but with a catch. “The thing about coral,” he says, “is that it blows away most kinds of art.”

For artnet News critic Paddy Johnson’s more favorable assessment, check out The New Museum Triennial Offers a Dazzling and Dystopian Vision of the Future.

Organized by New Museum curator Lauren Cornell and video/installation artist Ryan Trecartin, the show includes tastemakers like the DIS collective and K-HOLE (which coined the term normcore), influential New York artists like Josh Kline, and, for gee-whiz effect, a work by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané that involves donning an Oculus Rift headset (see Have You “Rifted” at the New Museum Triennial?).

For Christian and Blake’s last visit to the New Museum, check out their take on art of the Arab world with Strictly Critical Video: Gopnik and Viveros-Fauné at the New Museum.

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