'Surround Audience' looks to new digital frontiers
March 13, 2015

Curated by Ryan Trecartin and Lauren Cornell, this group exhibition at New York's New Museum explores the creative work taking place outside of the traditional art world

The New Museum’s third Triennial, titled 'Surround Audience', is curated by Lauren Cornell and artist Ryan Trecartin, and features over 51 young artists and collectives from over 25 countries. As the only recurring exhibition devoted to showcasing an international selection of early-career artists, the New Museum acts to support the next generation of talent and predict the future of contemporary art. Having worked together for over a decade, Cornell and Trecartin here extend their revolving practice around technology and capitalism’s absorption into our perception and understanding of the world.

“It started with talking about language and poetry, and evolved into thinking about how these artists were doing things outside of the art world. We’re asking how the museum can be a jumping-off point, rather than a place to put things into,” Trecartin explains.  Using transitional spaces within the museum, such as corridors and stairways, the exhibition is structured around the blending and bleeding between culture, politics, technology and art. Here, we pick our highlights from the show, exploring the artists who are crossing the boundary between our physical reality and new digital frontiers.

 

We’re asking how the museum can be a jumping-off point, rather than a place to put things into

 

Antoine Catala: ‘Distant Feel’

New York-based French artist Antoine Catala’s sculpture, ‘Distant Feel’, presents two floating ‘E’s’ facing one another within a customized aquarium. The E’s are simultaneously beautiful, with a micro ecology of coral growing around them, and yet glassed off, distant and pristine within the enclosure. Catala seems to draw a parallel to contemporary life, living separated by glass and technology from the rest of the world. The project seeks to reconnect us to our notions of empathy, using the two facing E’s as a visual message that we must also turn to face each other in order to feel and be felt once again.

 

Josh Kline, ‘Freedom’

Josh Kline’s installation, ‘Freedom’, deals with concepts of technology and culture impinging on our lives, and thus changing what it means to be human today. The immersive environment comprised of several videos and sculptures housed within an architectural environment allow visitors to listen and view recordings of the artists face superimposed on various individuals, from President Obama to New York City residents remarking on Zucotti Park. The installation is a personal interpretation of the era that began with the 2008 financial crisis.

 

Frank Benson, ‘Juliana’

One of the most striking pieces of the show is Frank Benson’s 3D printed sculpture, Juliana, a posing transgendered nude of his muse and fellow artist, Juliana Huxtable. Positioned alongside a series of photographic work by Juliana Huxtable at the Triennial, the sculpture makes reference to classic poses from art history. However the beguiling form is also thoroughly situated within contemporary references of 3D printing and donning an iridescent, reflective paintjob and signature braids.

 

DIS, ‘Island’

The installation and performance, Island, by DIS located near the entranceway of the museum exemplifies how post-internet is a pervasive force. DIS, commissioned as an artist, but are also a lifestyle publication and a stock image library online. A showroom-esque model of a sleek, contemporary apartment is situated within the museum environment. The space comes to life when a woman proceeds to take a shower fully clothed on a waterproof bed, a strange feature that harkens to the idea of a near-future household appliance that has not quite been grasped in our own contempoary world. The entire performance is deliberately unfamiliar and disconcerting, and yet appears alarmingly normal, assertively presented in all of its strangeness. This is a sensation that runs throughout the exhibition, questioning the many ways in which we live in and embody technology today.

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