“Younger Than Jesus poses a question: are generations a viable way to evaluate art? Given that periodisation is the primary way art history is sliced and that culture is understood to be shaped by the politics and prerogatives of successive generations, it is an important question, particularly now when the impact of people born after 1976 has not yet been fully measured. Sociologists, advertisers and journalists have made stabs at picturing this generation, but often the resulting portrait is over-simplified.Younger Than Jesus presents a complex picture of how generations work in art; the show is diverse, with different philosophies, fantasies, politics and formal approaches surging through it.
Fifty artists from 25 countries will be included in the exhibition. Artists were selected for Younger Than Jesus through an unusual open curatorial model designed to echo the participatory attitudes and networking proclivities of the generation represented in the show: initial research for the exhibition was conducted through an international network of correspondents, an information-pooling group comprised of more than 150 curators, writers, teachers, critics, bloggers, and artists worldwide.
Each was asked to recommend artists for the exhibition. This methodology was intended to expand the curatorial process and challenge the traditional ‘single source’ method of creating an exhibition. Through this process, more than 500 artists were recommended and researched.
The next triennial will be curated differently. The idea is that a different team of curators will approach the theme in a radically new way. The next team has not yet been confirmed, but there is no onus on them to look at young artists; they could look at generations of artists who are disappearing, experiencing mid-life crises or they could project out into the future. It will be up to them.
There is always an urgent need to make space for new work. The New Museum has a history of giving first shows to young or under-recognised artists and, this exhibition, the only one in New York dedicated to international emerging artists, follows from that tradition.
Artists can emerge at any point in their lives. But, emergence doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it’s a fraught process that is bound to many factors, including generational ones, with artists, curators and critics of different ages creating momentum around particular ideas or practices.
Younger than Jesus will show the work of 50 emerging artists—all presenting powerful new perspectives and works. It will also provoke conversation and hopefully heated debate around questions of generations in art and across culture.”New Museum, New York, Younger Than Jesus, 8 April-14 June