Sunday, April 29, 2018

New Museum Triennial: “Songs for Sabotage”


A triennial scorned, its overt political posture embedded in monuments as gestures for wall and catalogue texts throwing around almost unanimously reviled underdefined politics as big ideas:

"New Museum Triennial Looks Great, but Plays It Safe" -nyt
“Songs for Sabotage,” the New Museum’s 2018 Triennial, tethers fresh artists to stale palaver." -newyorker
"Fielding the hazards of art as activism." - 4columns
"How the New Museum’s Triennial Sabotages Its Own Revolutionary Mission" -artnet
"Ignoring its faux-dissident title" -frieze
"And the curators’ understanding of a systemic problem like this doesn’t diminish it" -art-agenda

Which McGarry goes on: "The most conspicuous effect of introducing them to the market via the museum is the institution’s own accrual of various capital—intellectual, geopolitical, and, with regard to claiming names untouched by rival fundraisers, territorial. The fastidiously heterogeneous selection of artists constitutes a risk-adverse portfolio that secures growth for a museum whose projection of its identity, in an especially crowded local context, has been remarkably ambitious." 
and ends with an honesty: "Part of me wonders if I should continue reviewing international group exhibitions when I am so predisposed to be bored and disappointed by them. I consider it my duty to speak out against the convention when given the platform. I don’t know if it’s fair to cast artists as victims and curators as complicit, if often well-intentioned, facilitators who are ultimately either too weak or too disempowered to change how biennials and triennials are done. With a handful of discoveries, this show does its job, but “Songs for Sabotage” doesn’t sabotage the mold of the triennial itself, so in most respects it feels like lip service."

But perhaps most telling, in Artforum Chloe Wyma's preview had already presumed the critiques at before the show even opened in a single quip, "But will the master’s tools, as Audre Lorde famously cautioned, ever dismantle the master’s house?"

So what does it mean then that we can pre-critique our exhibitions, we already know the aperture for knife's insertion? Whose game is already played out, reviewer and curator.