The term "resilience" has been particularly in vogue since the pandemic began. So much so that the New Museum in New York has decided to make it the theme of its next art triennial, to be held from October 27 to January 23. Mark your calendar!
Although resilience was first theorized as a human quality in 1942, this idea of strength and persistence has been at the heart of a Brazilian proverb for centuries. "Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura," which means in English, "soft water on hard stone hits until it bores a hole."
While this phrase can have multiple interpretations, the New Museum has used it as inspiration as it mounts the fifth edition of its contemporary art triennial. "Soft Water Hard Stone" is organized by Margot Norton, curator at the New York museum, and Jamillah James, senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
They have invited 40 international artists and collectives to participate in this event, including Haig Aivazian, Alex Ayed, Goutam Ghosh, Clara Ianni and Tanya Lukin Linklater. Most of them were born after the 1980s, and reimagine in their work "traditional models, materials, and techniques beyond established institutional paradigms."
Malleability of materials and working methods
"Their works exalt states of transformation, calling attention to the malleability of structures, porous and unstable surfaces, and the fluid and adaptable potential of both technological and organic media. The works included in the exhibition look back toward overlooked artistic traditions and technological building blocks, while at the same time look forward toward the immaterial, the transitory, and the creative potential that might give dysfunctional or discarded remains new life," outlines the New Museum in a press release.
While the next edition of the New York museum's triennial will take place starting in October, Margot Norton and Jamillah James began research on it back in the summer of 2018 -- until the coronavirus pandemic caused them to rethink their working methods.
"While there is a huge disadvantage to not seeing work in person, we actually found it to be quite efficient to continue our research remotely, particularly as we honed in on the show's theme, and for the artists whose works we have had the opportunity to see in person prior," Margot Norton explained to Artnet News.