The 2018 New Museum Triennial, entitled Songs for Sabotage, opened last week, but don’t feel bad if it slipped under your radar. Though this is the museum’s fourth triennial, it’s still a relatively new face on the -ennial scene. It’s the younger sibling, if you will, of the Whitney Biennial, whose 79th installment is a year away and has already hit headlines.
That said, the New Museum Triennial is not one to be overlooked. It’s been making waves since 2009, immediately promoting its dedication to shining a spotlight on emerging, international artists. Here are a few reasons we’re excited about this year’s edition, and why you should be too:
How many times have you heard the question, “are museums still relevant?” From major news sources like CNN to that relative who still doesn’t understand why you majored in art history (we’re looking at you, Aunt Carol), many are concerned that museums are stuck in the past.
If the Triennial doesn’t put that discussion to rest, we don’t know what will. A statement released by the museum describes the exhibition as “a call for action, an active engagement, and an interference in political and social structures.” The artists involved have created subversive art in the form of “propaganda” that calls out institutional injustice on a worldwide scale, an effort that couldn’t be more relevant to today’s reality. This is a museum with its finger on the pulse, and we couldn’t be more psyched about it.
In conversations about staying relevant, the words “millennial engagement” come up pretty often. Museums have been trying to figure us out for a long time, and the dilemma of how to woo us doesn’t seem to be getting any easier to tackle (with a diverse demographic encapsulating 18 to 35-year-olds, how could it?). The New Museum may have cracked part of the code. They recognize the power of feeling a connection to both art and its creators, particularly through the lens of shared identity and experience. What follows is a strength in understanding that we are not alone in facing certain challenges.
Since its inception, the New Museum Triennial has been a forum for young, international artists that curators believe will shape the future of contemporary art, and this year is no different. As reported by ARTnews and artnet, works by over 30 artists from 19 different countries, all between the ages of 25 to 35, span the four floors of the museum. Maybe it’s the New Yorker in us, but finding common ground through diversity isn’t just engaging; it’s inspiring.
By placing a focus on young artists, as opposed to older, more established ones, the New Museum Triennial hands the reins for contemporary art discourse to a new generation. As in previous years, the 2018 lineup even includes works by artists who have never before exhibited in the U.S.
The result of this arrangement is a two-for-one deal, where artists gain access to a new audience and visitors like us may discover a new favorite artist.
There are so many other reasons to visit Songs for Sabotage, but we’ll let you figure those out. If you haven’t already set aside a day (or two) to visit, there’s still time. The show is open until May 27th, and definitely worth the trip!