New Museum announces The Ungovernables

The New Museum presents The Ungovernables an exhibition on view 2/15/12 – 4/22/12.

Abigail DeVille, What Happens to a Dream Deferred…Supernova, 2009. Cardboard, paint, paper, and plastic, 20 x 12 sq. ft (6 x 3.6 sq. m). Installation view: Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY. Courtesy the artist. Photo: LaToya Ruby Frazier

“The Ungovernables” is an exhibition about the urgencies of a generation who came of age after the independence and revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Joo conducted primary research for the Triennial in more than twenty countries over the course of eighteen months, visiting hundreds of artists in the process. “In many ways this generation was formed by the instability of a period marked by military dictatorships, the IMF crises of the 1980s and 1990s, the spread of global capitalism and the rise of fundamentalism,” Joo says. “But what I encountered were artists whose practices demonstrate remarkable resiliency, pragmatism, flexibility, and hopefulness.”

Through both materials and form, works included in “The Ungovernables” explore impermanence and an engagement with the present and future. Many of the works are provisional, site-specific, and performative reflecting an attitude of possibility and resourcefulness. In the sculpture of Adrián Villar Rojas, monumentality is juxtaposed with transience. Rendered in clay, the works depend on cracks on their surfaces—the inevitable failure of the object, of meaning, and the guaranteed transformation of all ideas and objects back to dust. But it is dust that is then repurposed, reimagined, and re-formed. When Danh Võ learned that the Statue of Liberty is simply a steel armature covered by a copper skin the thickness of two pennies, he researched the hammering process that gave her shape, then employed craftsmen to replicate the statue’s skin for his work WE THE PEOPLE. Julia Dault manipulates materials of modernity such as Formica and Plexiglas in temporal arrangements that can never be repeated. In her works, the artist’s labor is dependent on the conditions of a certain space, her strength to execute a work at a particular time, and the uncontrollable accidents her materials determine. House of Natural Fiber, a new media collective and alternative space, has recently combined microbiology and art to teach locals about safe ways to brew homemade fruit wine while amplifying and sampling the sounds of the distillation process to make electronic music. Jonathas de Andrade’s Ressaca Tropical (Tropical Hangover) is an installation of over one hundred photographs linked to pages of a romantic diary found in the trash. In isolation, the components of Ressaca are historical documents. However, pieced together, they comprise a larger fiction of what a city is and can be—how the past can remain alive, not through conservation, but instead through the invisible energy of living.

“The Ungovernables” is testimony to the breadth and vitality of cultural production outside of familiar, Western market centers,” says Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director. “The New Museum recognizes that this signals an important paradigm shift for the twenty-first century.”
The exhibition title takes its inspiration from the concept of “ungovernability” and its transformation from a pejorative term used to describe unruly “natives” to a strategy of civil disobedience and self-determination embraced by the African National Congress in South Africa in 1986. “The Ungovernables” is meant to suggest both anarchic and organized resistance and a dark humor about the limitations and potentials of this generation.

Over the past year, the New Museum has initiated a series of residencies and public programs to support the production of new works for the Triennial—an ongoing initiative that has fostered artistic investigation, experimentation, and exchange on both formal and informal levels. Residencies began in February 2011, with Public Movement and Adrián Villar Rojas focusing on research for Triennial projects. This past

Building on the Museum as Hub model, preparation for “The Ungovernables” incorporated lengthy consultation with a network of curators, organizations, and artists from around the world, including Museum as Hub partners. Their contributions have most notably inspired the Art Spaces Directory, a resource guide to over 400 independent art spaces around the world, co-published by ArtAsiaPacific magazine and featuring essays by Víctor Albarracín, Reem Fadda and Christine Tohme, Stefan Kalmár, Naiza H. Khan, Catalina Lozano, Elaine W. Ng, and “The Ungovernables” will also be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue designed by Santiago Piedrafita, Head of Graphic Design, North Carolina State University, and published by Rizzoli. The catalogue will include full color, four-page spreads on each of the thirty-four artists and groups; as well as essays and fiction by several participating artists, writer/curator Miguel A. López, curator Gabi Ngcobo, and Triennial curator, Eungie Joo.-

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