If you could travel through time, which direction do you prefer, the past or the future? In the second triennial exhibition this past year, “The Ungovernables,” at the New Museum, the artists invent the time machine, inviting us to travel in a disoriented space where we could embrace the energy of a generation’s disobedience and urgencies or deliberate the unique experiences and memories of the generation.
Stepping out of the elevator on the fourth floor of the New Museum, I was already drawn to the towering floor-to-ceiling sculpture by Adrián Villar Rojas titled “A person loved me” in front of me. If you take a panoramic view of the grey colossus, it appears to be a gigantic 3-D core headquarters of a science and technology base, absorbing and assembling of random machine parts, which gives you a captivating sense of animation. As you walking closer and beholding a scene of destruction: the colossus in clay mottled gray and scarred by deep cracks, you can’t help wondering if it was a Neolithic monument, or a fossil from outer space in the past. In another way, you can also travel to the future by witnessing the downfall of human race and the cold image of rising technology and perceiving Mr. Rojas’ idea of life’s impermanence.
Going down from the fourth floor to the third floor through the white and narrow back stairs on the New Museum, you will be surprised as you pass by the bottom level of Abigail DeVille’s artwork called “Dark Day”, which occupies a strange vertical column. With curiosity, you can actually step in to this cramped chaotic space and glance upward. Lots of destructive materials are dangling from the top chimed perfectly with a mixed sound of trumpets and drums, which penetrates the area with the eerie mood. However, the sound is not part of the artwork, where is it coming from? The answer is on the third floor.
The sound comes from a dim room that surrounded by a white wall. Anyone who wants to traverse the chamber has to crawl through a tight passage, lit by a string of dim electric light from the screen inside the room. It is a most engaging video over all, of two Cairene men encountering each other through a dance called “Jewel” by Hassan Khan. Khan generates a space creating interchange between two men, one older man with leather jacket and one younger man wearing a formal white shirt. Instead communicating by speaking, they are dramatically flourishing with showy gesture. If you want to embrace the energy, just wave your hand and experience it!
Distinctive, too, in its global reach — 46 artists out of 50 were born out of United States — there is much celebration of momentary and international art which is unique and contained with multiple cultures in this Triennial. Go back in time to see them all for yourself, at your own pace, in the archives: http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/the-ungovernables