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New Museum Triennial: An Excellent Example of Championing Artists of Our Time

Kang Seung Lee, Untitled (Harvey) (2020).
Ann Greene Kelly, Homesick Nightgown (2020). Colored pencil on paper, 19 x 13 in (7.48 x 5.12 cm). Photo: Paul Forney. Courtesy the artist, Chapter NY, New York and Michael Benevento, Los Angeles
Brandon Ndife, Modern Dilemma (2020). Birch plywood, cast foam, pigment, AquaResin, resin, enamel, conduit cable, dish rack, ceramic plates, 48 × 27 1/2 × 21 1/2 in (121.92 × 69.85 × 54.61 cm). Courtesy the artist and Bureau, New York
Sandra Mujinga, Stretched Delays (1) (2017) (still). HD video, color; 13 min, 32 in LED TV, digital print on clear plexiglass, 47 1/4 x 35 1/2 x 1/8 in (120 x 90 x 0.3 cm), steel, silicon rubber. Danced by Marquet K. Lee. Courtesy the artist, Croy Nielsen, Vienna, and The Approach, London

The Fifth Triennial at the New Museum exhibition opens to New York audiences with attention-grabbing artists working around resistance and perseverance encountered collectively during the height of the pandemic and everyday life afterward.

Beyond the established paradigms, artists and curators in the modern world are reimagining classic art models, materials, and approaches. Take Brazilian artist Gabriela Mureb’s Machine #4: stone (ground) – a staple of the show – a mechanically functional sculpture of an aluminum rod hitting a stone repeatedly inspired by the popular Brazilian proverb, “Soft water on hard stone, hits until it bores a hole” used as the title of the show. The saying goes on to believe that “if one persists long enough, the desired effect can eventually be achieved; and time can destroy even the most perceptibly solid materials.

Nadia Belerique, HOLDINGS (Ongoing) (2020). Plastic barrels, metal frame, stained glass, lead, copper tape, fabrics, photographs, rainwater, paint, various objects, dimensions variable. Exhibition view: Kunstverein Braunschweig. Photo: Stefan Stark. Courtesy the artist and Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto
Ambera Wellmann, UnTurning (2019). Oil, collage, acrylic, and soft pastel on canvas. 78 3/4 x 206 3/4 in (200 x 525.1 cm). Courtesy the artist and KTZ gallery, Berlin

“Soft Water Hard Stone”, curated by Margot Norton of the New Museum and Jamillah James of the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, focuses on race, gender, and sexuality; with allusions to colonialism’s forgotten histories and artistic traditions. Opening space for 40 international artists and curators to display the natural world’s regeneration potential, the New Museum’s triennial is a perfect example of why institutions play a vital role in the development of the art world’s creative ecosystem. 

The New Museum Triennial exhibition provides a good platform for young artists to define the current discourse of contemporary art and the future of art culture, thanks to its dedication to developing artists worldwide. The exhibition’s sleek aesthetics remind us of humans’ temporality and flexibility. The show’s main ideas and goals are to demonstrate how the traits we share with these inanimate items make us human.

Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho‘s mixed-media artworks with light and audio programming are also on display as part of the exhibition. The team has a collaborative artistic practice that spans the Philippines and beyond, addressing localized iterations of labor and capital via the lens of postcolonial damage. 

Tanya Lukin Linklater, An amplification through many minds (2019) (still). Video, color, sound; 36:32 min. Courtesy the artist and Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver
Sandra Mujinga, Stretched Delays (1) (2017) (still). HD video, color; 13 min, 32 in LED TV, digital print on clear plexiglass, 47 1/4 x 35 1/2 x 1/8 in (120 x 90 x 0.3 cm), steel, silicon rubber. Danced by Marquet K. Lee. Courtesy the artist, Croy Nielsen, Vienna, and The Approach, London

Their projects frequently require an immersion period of research or living in a location, during which they attempt to uncover specific places of tension that speak to the manipulation of life for profit and progress. We can see how the artworks that arise from this experiential research emphasize the show’s theme through their exhibition.

About The Curators of the New Museum Triennial Exhibition in 2021

The New Museum and Phaidon Press Limited have collaborated on a fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition. Jamillah James, Margot Norton, Karen Archey, Eunsong Kim, and Bernardo Mosqueira contributed to the catalogue designed by Studio Pacific’s Elizabeth Karp-Evans and Adam Turnbull. It also includes exclusive interviews with each of the exhibition’s forty artists.

The following are eight artists whose exhibitions stand out in the New Museum Triennial exhibition in 2021:

  1. Gabriela Mureb – Machine #4: stone (ground), 2017
  2. Iris Touliatou – Untitled (Still Not Over You), 2021.
  3. Laurie Kang – Great Shuttle, 2020–21
  4. Sandra Mujinga – Pervasive Light, 2021
  5. Ambera Wellmann – Strobe, 2021
  6. Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho – waves move bile, 2020
  7. Hera Büyüktaşçıyan – Nothing Further Beyond, 2021
  8. Jeneen Frei Njootli – Fighting for the title to not be pending, 2020.
Thao-Nguyen Phan, Becoming Alluvium (2019) (still). Video, color, sound; 16:40 min. Courtesy the artist and Han Nefkens Foundation
Amalie Smith, Clay Theory (2019) (still). 3D video, color, sound; 18:05 min. Courtesy the artist
Kate Cooper, Symptom Machine (2017). Video, color, sound; 10:11 min. Courtesy the artist