This year, the New Museum hosted The Ungovernables, its latest Triennial exhibition featuring over 50 young artists. The Ungovernables’ goal was to explore the visuals and ideas of a generation born in the aftermath of Western colonialism. The artists’ work motivated discussions about identity, race, religion, economic crisis, and what it means to define oneself after outside forces have actively redefined one’s culture. Here are a few highlights from the show.
A collision of the sacred and the profane – the rahlé, the traditional book stand used for holy books, and the takht or river-bed, vernacular seating areas used in tea-salons – PrayWay is part installation, part sculpture, part seating area, and all polemical platform. Slavs and Tatars are an art collective interested in the area “east of the Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China”.
None of the figures in Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are real people, but like characters in a novel, each has his or her own background story, own purpose, own personal life. Yiadom-Boakye embraces the painting medium by utilizing the urgency of fast paint application.
Amalia Pica’s multicolored, carefully place arrangement of found glasses, references the childhood activity of pressing glasses against a wall to eavesdrop on a conversation going on in another room. Upon reflection, the work has more political rather than playful edge, with the idea of one listening to what is not intended to be publicly heard by means of a voyeuristic act.
These large sculptural pieces come from Vo’s exact copy of the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s 22m tall Statue of Liberty. Vo has taken this adopted symbol of American freedom and broken it down to fragments that will never be welded together. The work is commemorative of the struggle of immigrants like Vo and his Vietnamese family.
From her series of paintings, War with the Stars, Minam Apang’s dark and meticulously detailed works offer an introspective world of fantasy. Cultures and symbolism clash. The artist was influenced by the instability of her life, which led her to travel across the world, with the only constant being her own self and imagination.
Part of a larger installation of ten separate displays, Issa’s objects are titled from left to right: “Material for a sculpture commemorating the life of a soldier who died defending his nation against intruding enemies”, “Material for a sculpture proposed as an alternative to a monument that has become an embarrassment to its people”, “Material for a sculpture representing a bygone era of luxury and decadence”, “Material for a sculpture representing a monument erected in the spirit of defiance of a larger power”. This is Issa’s way of negotiating the simplistic language of monuments that are intended to symbolize complicated issues.
One of the several video exhibits was O SECULO by Cinthia Marcelle and Tiago Mata Machado. It is a both a visual and musical experience of thrown objects forming an orchestra of sound as they crash against the pavement of an empty street.