2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage
February 13 – May 27 2018
In 2018, the New Museum presented its fourth Triennial, “Songs for Sabotage.” The exhibition questioned how individuals and collectives around the world might effectively address the connection of images and culture to the forces that structure our society. Together, the artists in “Songs for Sabotage” proposed a kind of propaganda, engaging with new and traditional media in order to reveal the built systems that construct our reality, images, and truths. A call for action, an active engagement, and an interference in political and social structures, the exhibition brought together works across mediums by approximately thirty artists from nineteen countries, the majority of whom are exhibiting in the United States for the first time. “Songs for Sabotage” explored interventions into cities, infrastructures, and the networks of everyday life, proposing objects that might create common experience. The exhibition took as a given that these structures are linked to the entrenched powers of colonialism and institutionalized racism that magnify inequity.
Through their distinct approaches, the artists in “Songs for Sabotage” offered models for dismantling and replacing the political and economic networks that envelop today’s global youth. Invoking the heightened role of identity in today’s culture, they took on the technological, economic, and material structures that stand in the way of collectivity. The artists were further connected by both their deep engagements with the specificity of local context and a critical examination—and embrace—of the internationalism that links them. Their works ranged widely in medium and form, including painted allegories for the administration of power, sculptural proposals to renew (and destroy) monuments, and cinematic works that engaged the modes of propaganda that influence us more and more each day. Viewed in ensemble, these works provided a models for reflecting upon and working against a system that seems doomed to failure.
“Songs for Sabotage” was curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator at the New Museum, and Alex Gartenfeld, founding Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, with Francesca Altamura, Curatorial Assistant. It was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue copublished by the New Museum and Phaidon Press Limited.
ABOUT THE TRIENNIAL
The New Museum Triennial is the only recurring international exhibition in New York City devoted to emerging artists from around the world, providing an important platform for a new generation of artists who are shaping the current discourse of contemporary art and the future of culture. The first edition was initiated in 2009 with “Younger Than Jesus,” organized by Massimiliano Gioni, Laura Hoptman, and Lauren Cornell. The second Triennial, “The Ungovernables,” was organized by Eungie Joo in 2012. The third Triennial, “Surround Audience,” was organized by Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin with Sara O’Keeffe and Helga Christoffersen in 2015.