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Exhibit of the week: The Generational: Younger Than Jesus
The exhibition at the New Museum in New York focuses on artists ages 33 and under, 33 being the age at which Christ is traditionally said to have been crucified.
 

New Museum
New York
Through June 14

From a show featuring work by young artists, you might expect brash experimentation and a bold rejection of accepted norms, said Katya Kazakina in Bloomberg.com. But “there’s not much rebellion” in the New Museum’s exhibition of artists ages 33 and under. The 50 tech-savvy artists represented here share a marked disinterest in critiquing the status quo or inventing new forms, preferring instead to “remix vast quantities of visual information from all kinds of sources to construct their own reality.” Though the show ­features some traditional art forms, such as painting and sculpture, it’s dominated by video and photography characterized by the “guilt-free voyeurism and exhibitionism” that have become de rigueur among the YouTube generation.

At least these artists have rejected the navel-gazing tendencies of their forbears, said Jerry Saltz in New York. Instead, they favor “gazing at other people’s bellybuttons.” Cyprien Gaillard’s “riveting” 30-minute video, Desniansky Raion (2007), includes “beautifully choreographed” footage of members of rival Russian “underground fight clubs” rumbling in a St. Petersburg housing complex. It also works in footage of a public-­housing project in Paris being demolished, as well as an overhead view into a dodgy Kiev apartment block. Several YouTube–esque videos by Philadelphia artist Ryan Trecartin present sexually ambiguous characters engaged in sped-up psycho­dramas. The “radical vulnerability” of this and other works contrasts sharply—and pleasingly—with “the super-self-conscious, highly educated, insular art of the recent past.” 

Yet “to group art by the age of its makers is to imply that the young have a special relationship with innovation,” said Ariella Budick in the Financial Times. None seems to exist here. What’s present in heaps, though, is a derivativeness typical of a “student show.” Cory Arcangel’s Photoshop CS (2008) reproduces the software’s color spectrum on a grand scale. Mark Rothko, it’s not. Likewise, Keren Cytter’s video of two “sylphs” taunting a middle-aged woman about her sexuality is nothing more than a “stale brew” of Jean-Luc Godard and Ingmar Bergman. The cutoff age of 33 was chosen because that’s the age at which Christ is traditionally said to have been crucified. But if Younger Than Jesus represents the next wave, I’m afraid “the coming of art’s saviors is farther off than ever.”

 

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