Monday, April 20, 2009

"Younger Than Jesus" at the New Museum

Jerry Saltz, in his New York Magazine review of “Younger Than Jesus,” the encyclopedic survey of art made by artists younger than 33-years old now at the New Museum, says: "None of these artists is trying to advance the teleological ball or invent new forms."

I’m not so sure. That is, I haven’t yet decided if what I’m seeing (and hearing) is merely a mishmash cacophony of disparate ideas typical of young artist overstatement, or if this is a new aesthetic. Probably both.

Pop Art in the sixties dealt with the onslaught of advertising and other mass media -- a uniquely 20th century phenomenon. The 21st century has expanded the onslaught to video, computer games, omnipresent music and networking, and all kinds of interactive media.

Perhaps more significant, the tools (Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, GarageBand, etc.) to engage in the constant interactivity and sensory overload that are the lives these YTJ artists now live, are readily available and are second nature to them.

Typical of this possibly new aesthetic, and getting a lot of attention, are Ryan Trecatin’s installations. They include the obligatory videos, in his case of frantic, fast-talking, gender ambiguous kids (many played by himself). A part of me wants to put the work down as narcissistic, childish fantasy, but it has a chaotic energy and confidence bordering on arrogance that needs to be taken seriously.

Ryan Trecartin, Re’Search Wait’S (Edit 1: Missing Re’Search Corruption Budget), 2009 Courtesy the artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York

About a third of the works in the exhibition don’t fit this model. One in particular that I liked is Cyprien Gaillard's mesmerizing and disturbing video in three parts, Desniansky Raion, 2007. In one “scene,” large gangs of Russian youths gather and charge each other, viciously fighting until one of the gangs runs away; another is a dizzying flight over a bleak, snowy Russian housing complex (the source of the gang’s brutality?); and a hauntingly beautiful scene entailing a light show projected on another large apartment building with fireworks thrown in. The grand finale is the sudden imploding of the building -- horrifyingly reminiscent of 9/11.

Cyprien Gaillard, Desniansky Raion, 2007. Digital video, color, sound, 30 min, Courtesy Cosmic Galerie, Paris

Several videos of the exhibition can be found on YouTube. Here’s one by James Kalm that gives a good overview with little editorializing:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After reading your article, thought you'd like some of the interviews on this story: