The quest for art that expands the possibilities for a troubled world


The world is broken. Humans shuffle from place to place, cumbersome and anxious, clinging to the small screen, living fossils in the archeology of trauma – racial, economic, ecological – that all seem active at once. Faced with a pandemic, political and economic leaders have proved unequal to the challenge of steering their people and the planet to safety. Playbook is empty. They have missed out on measurability, monitoring, algorithms.

This compound failure is a failure of imagination. But if catastrophe has run out of money and powerful ideas beyond control, art reminds us that there are other options. And so this season more than ever, I’m looking forward to art that refuses to give up: exhibitions and projects that offer a global range and historical insight, that tap into ancestral and community wisdom, Leads us to celestial thinking.

NS New Museum Triennial (Oct 28-Jan 23) Should be a good start. The Triennial’s established mission – to feature emerging artists from around the world – is critical in this period of national isolation; And the theme of this edition, to do with unseen material, decay and renewal, seems fitting. I’m excited that it features prodigious young South African artists Bronwyn Katzo, whose sculptures of copper, iron ore and found objects are aesthetically concise – not to say the least – yet charged with supernatural power from the geologic and social terrain of that country.

I often think of the 1970s, when the Reagan-Thatcher “revolution” was preceded by real social projects—European social-democracy, Third Worldism, competition between different forms of communism (and discontent within them) Was. Finance. It was a turbulent time with many failed experiments, but it created thinking with purpose, offering a glimpse of a better world.

What if there was a global resource transfer, as recommended in the 1980s? North-South: a program for survivalreport of a commission, headed by Willie Brandt, the former German chancellor who repented for the Holocaust and made peace with the East? On the art front, at the time, many European opinions and even establishment figures were supported. resumption of work Looted in colonial wars, an idea that is now only making some painstaking progress. What if instead of raw market power and zero-sum thinking, that humanistic logic always held?

We will never know, but in the work of contemporary artists aware of the aspirations and illusions of that period, we can perhaps find insights for the present. What could be the global consciousness today?

In the end, in Brooklyn, a show by grada kilomba (through October 31) Uses installation and performance video to examine colonial trauma using Greek myth and psychoanalysis. at the same place, manthia diara (November 11-March 27) A multichannel work will premiere on the work of Martinican philosopher douard Glissant, who claimed a “right of obscurity” for the oppressed – for No Explain. Diara was a friend of Glissant, who died in 2011; His film stars David Hammons, Danny Glover, Wole Soyinka and Maryse Conde.

In her four-part “Who Is Afraid of Ideology”, filmmaker Marwa Arsanios examines new liberation movements – eclectic and feminist – in Kurdistan, Lebanon, Colombia; Full project shows this season Center for Contemporary Arts in Cincinnati (September 17-February 27). Here in New York City I would look for international work – for example by Indian photographers Gauri Gill, James Cohn (October 7–November 13), and Myanmar painter in exile Sawangwongse Yongwe, in Jane Lombard (September 10-October 23) — for its theme and style, but also for its connection across travel restrictions and the vaccine inequality gap. (Here’s to the artists, art handlers, and gallery staff making the show in these circumstances.)

I hope that Chance 5 Triennial In New Orleans, which has already been postponed since last year by the pandemic, has been able to go as planned (October 23-January 23). The program is thriving, with a strong share of local artists as well as interventions from non-locals (Kevin Beasley, Simone Leigh, the London Couple Cooking Section and more) who should illuminate how a major art gathering can be productively woven into its host community. It’s always an issue for biennials, but Prospect – which arose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina – I hope can set an example for other cities to emulate, in the aftermath of this fresh blow.

Louisiana Built Projects Coming to New York, Too dread scottPhotography and banners from the 2019 Community Re-enactment of a Slave Rebellion in Kristin Tierney (September 17-December 18); And David BayPhotography and video of plantation sites at Sean Kelly (Sept 10-Oct 23).

However, if you can hit the road, you can travel further Texas Biennial, which features 51 artists in five museums in Houston and San Antonio (as of January 31). Spiritually Minded Painter’s First Museum Single at Dallas Museum of Art noudline pierre (September 26-May 15); Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth Sandy Rodriguez (December 18-April 17), combining inspiration from California’s desert flora with last year’s social upheaval and lockdown isolation.

I’m not looking for “epidemic art” per se – we’re still deep in it. But the world-historic setback we have gone through since March 2020 is slowly but surely being channeled into major artistic masterpieces.

New Video Installation by “Five Murmurs” john akomphrah In the Listen Gallery (until 16 October), the British director’s “Film Collection of Today” is livelihood, from work on race and class in the 1980s to recent projects on oceans and climate change, tracks how we got to this point.

And on a hyperlocal level, I look forward to the Queens Museum’s “first public events”year of uncertaintyThe museum – with its already strong record of creative engagement with its city – is working with artists in residence and community groups to interpret and reflect in the existential challenge of our times, the museum’s own culture and projects Is.

It is not from the halls of power, but from places like Queens – hard-hit by the first wave of the pandemic, but also dynamic and diverse, which has been linked to much of the world through its immigrant populations – that we seek to gain stronger insight into. We stand for hope, too, as we work to get out of ruin.



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