From Ed Atkins to Aslı Çavuşoğlu – 2015’s landmark show sees artists take inspiration from multiple realities and the digital world
There is a scene in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome where Max Renn, the film’s seedy protagonist, gets his head caught inside a TV screen. Whilst submerged in pixels from the neck up, Renn’s hands anxiously feel out the surfaces around him, his body still inhabiting a tactile reality.
This year’s Triennial at the New Museum, Surround Audience, grapples with this sense of multiple realities, or at least the idea that the digital has diced and sliced the ways in which we experience the world. Curated by Lauren Cornell and artist Ryan Trecartin, the three-month long exhibition showcases 51 artists and collectives from across the globe, using mediums such as installation, video, sculpture and poetry to navigate our connected society and the purpose of art within it. Below, we pick out our top 10 emerging artists from this year’s program, profiling the international talents whose careers are set to skyrocket.
NADIM ABBAS, HONG KONG
Georges Bataille, Franz Kafka and the Collins Complete DIY Manual shape the world of Nadim Abbas. The Hong Kong based artist is a sort of recreational builder with a penchant for the kitsch and perverted, constructing installations that quiz the constructs of space and its place in our everyday. Not one to be confined to the white cube, Abbas often fixes his sculptures and installations in unlikely settings, once setting up in an architectural office and a luxury boutique. He’s a bit of a collector too, seizing found objects and trinkets that sometimes find there way into his work.
JULIANA HUXTABLE, NEW YORK
Juliana Huxtable is the subject of Frank Benson’s burnished life-size sculpture, and like the oil-slicked figure sat on a plinth, the 27 year-old transgender artist is attaining a flurry of attention. Tipped as one to watch by Petra Collins last year, Huxtable uses futurism, nightlife and Nuwaubianism (a religious movement that incorporates Ancient Egyptian and extraterrestrial themes) as routes to explore identity and representation. Self-portraits capturing the artist against digitally rendered backdrops frequent her social media feeds and those very images find themselves framed at the New Museum this year.
A bona fide renaissance women, Huxtable is working her new found celebrity as a painter, photographer, poet and DJ, running weekly club night SHOCK VALUE and collaborating as a member of the art collective House of LaDosha.
TANIA PÉREZ CÓRDOVA, MEXICO CITY
Tania Pérez Córdova likes to coerce materials into unlikely relationships, merging ceramics with SIM cards and concrete with bottle caps. Obsessed with how meaning is constructed and formed around objects, the Mexican artist revels in crafting weird and perplexing narratives through silk printing, photography, video and sculpture. A former resident artist at Gasworks, Córdova is at her best getting stuck in with tactile materials, interrogating their functionality and purpose. Staying true to form, the 36-year-old plays with contact lenses, marble, terracotta and earrings at the New Museum this year.
GUAN XIAO, BEIJING
Unlike the rest of us, Xiao’s incessant Internet browsing isn’t a scrolling death wish but a constant stream of functional matter that actually shapes her artworks. The Chinese artist is a multimedia fiend, using video and sculpture to explore the outmoded and the ultra-new, inspired by what she perceives as the Internet’s vast flatness.
Xiao’s 2013 work, Cognitive Shape, was an amalgamation of over 1000 video clips sourced from Vimeo, YouTube and TV shows. Her present work at the Triennial, The Documentary: Geocentric Puncture, features glitchy prints held up with tripods, fore-fronted by archaic and hyperrealistic sculptures. Cited in Hans Ulrich Obrist’s tome, The Future Will Be…China, Xiao is fast becoming a name to watch.
ED ATKINS, LONDON
Ed Atkins will remind you that you’re full of biology, a product of yucky processes that will never be as clean, slick, and perfect as the tech we live for. The Oxford-born artist was voted number 58 in the Dazed 100 last year, not long after his debut at the Serpentine, where his CGI avatar smoked, drank and chatted about an eyelash in his foreskin. Both “super-viciously artificial” and hyper-intimate, the work of this Slade School graduate obscures the line between the internal and external. Alongside his Triennial exposure, Atkins is currently showing Recent Oujja, his first solo exhibition in the Netherlands, on until the 31 May.
SHREYAS KARLE, MUMBAI
Shreyas Karle is here to help you combat your minor concerns and everyday troubles. “To Get Rid of Pimples, Stop Mirror Worship” and “Understanding Hairloss in 5 Steps” are just two works by the Mumbai-based artist that employ absurd irony and Buzzfeed-y wit, all through some really deft illustration.
Creating scenes that mock, challenge and poke fun at our quite dire contemporary condition, Karle wants audiences to participate in his attempts to navigate our contradictory reality – using collage, video and sculpture as a means to make sense of it all.
KILUANJI KIA HENDA, LUANDA
At the core of Kia Henda’s work is Angola. Unpicking its complexity and beauty with his camera, the Luanda-born artist uncovers hidden stories that challenge the harmful ideologies framing perceptions of Africa. Growing up in a house full of photographers, Kia Henda quickly honed his skills as a spectator sensitive to the ironies and humour of everyday life. Determined and utterly fearless, the artist is building narratives that history tomes often omit.
DONNA KUKAMA, MAFIKENG
Kukama once confessed that her foray into performance art was a means to bypass the crazy price of art supplies. It turns out that whilst also saving some coins, the Johannesburg-based artist manages to fashion some astonishing stories. Favouring the ethereal and the fleeting, Kukama’s short-lived performances experiment with speculative realities, obscuring the norms and structures we take for granted. Employing sound installation, video and text, her work usually inhabits public spheres, although her performances are known to equally command the stern constructs of gallery spaces.
LUKE WILLIS THOMPSON, AUCKLAND
At just 26, Luke Willis Thompson bagged the Walters Prize in 2014 – one of the most acclaimed art prizes in his native Australia. Questioning social hierarchies, race and class, the installation and performance artist confronts tricky issues head on, keen to bring forward topics that the art world still has some trouble approaching. Thompson will be performing a piece at the Triennial twice everyday, following one of his collaborators across routes in New York along side gallery visitors. Exploring of the city’s cold-blooded tendencies, the tours aim to further uncover the constant and grave aggression wielded against black men.
ASLI ÇAVUŞOĞLU, ISTANBUL
Aslı Çavuşoğlu once made a rap song splicing together words censored in Turkish media. In 2012, as part Frieze Projects, she employed actors and a legit crime drama crew to stage Murder in Three Acts, a real-time performance where the exhibition space doubled up as a crime scene. Ultimately, it’s fair to say that the canvas is totally unqualified to house her far-out ideas. Pursuing her practice in Istanbul, Çavuşoğlu’s work is all about the significance of objects beyond their immediate meanings and the varied stories that they can tell.