MACRO Future Museum, Rome
New York Minute was an exhibition at MACRO Future Museum in Rome that featured sixty artists in and around New York City who captured the drama, danger, speed, and savvy of the vibrant and diverse art activities happening in the city at the time. This exhibition brought together for the first time ever the best of the downtown community, showing behind-the-scenes connections and collaborations between artists not only in Manhattan but in the extended network that included active art spots like Providence, San Francisco, or Philadelphia. New York was exploding with new talent and though not every one of these artists lived in the city, every single artwork nonetheless contained the immediacy and energy packed into a New York Minute.
The expression “a New York Minute” refers to the speed in which New Yorkers react to stimuli, with a bit of impatience and a bit of ingenuity thrown in. Johnny Carson once described a New York Minute as being the time it takes "from the lights to turn green, till the guy behind you starts honking his horn." During the late 1980s crime wave, David Letterman defined a New York Minute as the length of time it took to be mugged in New York City. Or like Chris Johanson’s clock on the cover, a New York Minute was simultaneous, constant, crazed, and beautiful.
With that in mind, these sixty artists showed a rapid and resourceful response to current cultural events and issues specific to their generation. Mostly emerging artists and young artists living in downtown New York, this exhibition explored some of the leading tendencies in new art-making, such as updating action painting and abstraction with the shittiness of the streets; synthesizing low pop culture into handmade, heartfelt hybrids; taking conceptualism to new and absurd ends; organizing into collectives and bands to take all their interdisciplinary art on tour; and bringing a downtown punk attitude to assemblage, collage, and sculpture.
One major tendency that came out of this group used the dark energy of the streets to make frank, confrontational poppy punk projects whether collage, performance, music, or sculpture. They loved the danger and lawlessness of the city and made gritty, shitty artworks that captured the condition of being young in the brightest, baddest city in the world. Artists working in this mode included: Dash Snow, Lizzi Bougatsos, Terence Koh, Nate Lowman, Aurel Schmidt, and others.
One more colorful but related camp favored prismatic pigment explosions and sincere, humane synthesis over the dark side of the room. Coming from Providence, RI energy and San Francisco energy that privileged handmade, homemade, and found materials over the slick and sly, their works radiated an interconnectivity and communal attitude mimicked in how they often organized into collectives and bands. They used graphic and comic influences along with lowbrow pop power to breed new beings and radiant animals. Artists working in this mode included: Chris Johanson, AVAF, Paper Rad, Takeshi Murata, and Francine Spiegel.
A third major tendency was for these young artists to explore new abstraction. Whether updating New York School abstraction with the energy of the streets (like Dan Colen, Gardar Eide Einarsson, or Sterling Ruby), or revitalizing outmoded conceptual approaches to abstraction with current digital-era concerns (like Tauba Auerbach, Xylor Jane, or Ara Peterson), the new abstract was not cerebrally remote but urgent and immediate.
The sheer variety of this new, energetic art-making defied pressing and releasing so the best conceptualization of this show was that all the included artists were indeed in lived reality a tightly-knit group of interconnected and collaborating artists. All these people had exhibited together, partied together, dated, studied together, or painted together at the very most two levels of removal from each other. Collaborative AVAF had worked with almost a third of these artists at some point. Downtown New York City organizer Aaron Bondaroff had worked with at least half of them. This exhibition truly represented a cross-section of an expanded artist community.
“Downtown Don” Aaron Bondaroff turned the upper deck of one building into a pop-up shop with all the zines, records, stickers, t-shirts, and books this group of active artists produced along the way. Renowned designer and frequent A-ron collaborator Rafael de Cardenas styled both this space and also the overall exhibition design. Tinyvices creator Tim Barber curated his own section of the exhibition with contributions from his network of artists and photographers around the world.
This exhibition featured large-scale collaborative installations, site-specific murals, specially designed sculptural components, integrated video projects, and it all shared a stage where the work was activated. Multiple performances and screenings bringing a live version of this slice of New York City life invigorated and elaborated on the projects in the room, including a live performance by downtown punk band A.R.E. Weapons at the opening. More was contained in a New York Minute than in an hour of conventional life, and more was packed into this exhibition than a conventional museum show could contain.
Curated by Kathy Grayson
Aaron Bondaroff, Agathe Snow, Alan Vega, Ara Peterson, Aurel Schmidt, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Banks Violette, Barry McGee, Ben Jones, Brian Belott, Brian Chippendale, Brian Degraw, Chris Johanson, Cory Arcangel, Dan Colen, Dash Snow, Dearraindrop, Eddie Martinez, Ester Partegas, Evan Gruzis, Francine Spiegel, Gang Gang Dance, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Hanna Liden, JD Samson, Jim Drain, Joe Bradley, Jules de Balincourt, Katherine Bernhardt, Keegan McHargue, Kembra Pfahler, Kon Trubkovich, Lizzi Bougatsos, Mat Brinkman, Martha Friedman, Matt Leines, Michael Bell Smith, Michael Cline, Mitzi Pederson, Nate Lowman, Neckface, Nico Dios, Paper Rad, Patrick Griffin, Peter Coffin, Rosson Crow, Ry Fyan, Ryan McGinley, Scott Campbell, Spencer Sweeney, Sterling Ruby, Steve Powers, Takeshi Murata, Tauba Auerbach, Taylor McKimens, Terence Koh, threeASFOUR, Tim Barber, Tomoo Gokita, Valerie Hegarty, Xylor Jane, Yuichi Yokoyama.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
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