The art will be both more pragmatic and confrontational

Christian Viveros-Faune : art critic, curator
If you can't (or won't) make the art yourself, have it delivered, like Chinese takeout. That is the New York way. The aesthetic sustenance I speak of is not the usual limp chow mein, but rather political hot potatoes, shipped in fresh for the New Museum's much-anticipated second youth triennial. (It opens February 15.)

Titled "The Ungovernables," in the manner of a Jerry Bruckheimer shoot-'em-up (the term was used fearfully by South Africa's apartheid government, then adopted later as badge of honor by the African National Congress), the exhibition features the work of foreign-born artists reflecting critically on societies with much bigger problems than 8.5 percent unemployment. Unlike their American cousins, this geographically scattered bunch grew up amid (I'm quoting from the press release) "military dictatorships," "IMF crises," and "the spread of global capitalism and the rise of fundamentalism." That the show's 50-plus artists were born between the mid 1970s and the mid '80s makes their age cohort slightly more mature than the museum's last youthennial; the fact that they hail from so-called hardship countries including Nigeria, Vietnam, and India suggests that their art will be both more pragmatic and solidly confrontational. A Great Recession primer on art attuned to social issues, the exhibition will likely also prove a huge improvement on this year's star-humping Whitney Biennial. (That show, which includes movie kinfolk Werner Herzog, Frederick Wiseman, and Vincent Gallo, opens March 1.) For the coming cage fight, I give you the tale of the tape: "The Ungovernables" presents fresh global perspectives on crucial political and artistic issues; the Whitney plumps celebrity blowjobs (Gallo) and retreads "institutional critique" (Occupy Artists Space's Georgia Sagri). Lay your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Lay your bets.

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