214 Trigger: 2nd Floor Introduction
This is Johanna Burton, I’m the Keith Haring Director and Curator of public engagement here at the New Museum. And I’m the curator of Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, the exhibition you are about to see. The title is one that in many ways gestures towards a kind of paradox culturally right now where we both need triggers in terms of kind of thinking about new ways to imagine political futures, kind of resetting and then of course thinking about all of the kind of violences that are happening in culture and ideas of trigger warnings and other opportunities for people to find safe spaces that are then of course also countered by questions around censorship. So if the title is a mouthful it’s meant to actually invite you into an exhibition that has many, many directions and different ways of entering. The show is in many ways organized around the concept of gender, but the works that you see will often not be illustrative of gender, or really event take up sexuality at all. But instead to consider the way in which subject formation has operated in terms of legacies of both feminism and post-colonial theories over time. The artists that are assembled here range from age 27 to mid-60s. They’re intergenerational, they approach different aspects of subjectivity. What gender allows for is a new way of thinking outside of binary assigned positions. So regardless of how any artist in the show would self define, they are gathered together in a way to offer a cacophony of voices, aesthetics, and subject positions that take up what is an emergent moment in vocabulary in the artistic and cultural sphere.
As you look around you on the 2nd floor you’ll notice that there’s a vast array of different kinds of making. One thing that we thought about in terms of a loose thematic for the 2nd floor is the way that abstraction and representation are often thought about in opposing modes. And in this show we have, I think has been made clear in other ways, we want to do away with those kinds of distinctions and thinking instead about how abstraction and representation are always in dialogue. So on this floor we have amazing figurative and representational painters who none the less are playing with the edges of form. And then artists who are thinking about doing away with representation but it always sneaks back in.