New Museum Triennial 2015

Surround Audience

The New Museum announced the list of participating artists in the 2015 New Museum Triennial, the only recurring museum exhibition in New York devoted to presenting works by early-career artists from around the world. The Triennial provides an important platform for an emergent generation of artists that is shaping the discourse of contemporary art. “The Triennial’s predictive, rather than retrospective, model embodies the institution’s thirty-seven-year commitment to exploring the future of culture through the art of today,” said Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director. This third iteration of the Triennial is titled “Surround Audience” and is co-curated by New Museum Curator Lauren Cornell and artist Ryan Trecartin. The building-wide exhibition will be on view from February 25 to May 24, 2015. It will feature fifty-one artists and artist collectives from over twenty-five countries; for many of the participants, this will be their first inclusion in a museum exhibition in the United States.

Cornell and Trecartin have worked together for nearly a decade and they each bring a shared passion for probing the social and psychological effects of digital technology. For Cornell, “Surround Audience” is inspired in part by Trecartin’s own artistic practice, which, as she describes, “vividly manifests a world in which the effects of technology and late capitalism have been absorbed into our bodies and altered our vision of the world.” A tension between the newfound freedoms and threats of today’s society animates and anchors “Surround Audience.”


We are surrounded by a culture replete with impressions of life, be they visual, written, or construed through data. We move through streams of chatter, swipe past pictures of other people’s lives, and frame our own experiences as, all the while, our digital trails are subtly captured, tracked, and stored. This is a culture in which the radical multimedia environments envisioned by pioneering artists like Nam June Paik and Stan VanDerBeek are being lived out every day, albeit with much more complexity and compromise. With these transformations in mind, “Surround Audience” explores how artists are currently depicting subjectivity, unpacking complex systems of power, and claiming sites of artistic agency.

While issues around social media provide a point of departure for the exhibition, it is not the platforms themselves that are the exhibition’s primary focus, but rather the ways their associated effects intersect with life. Among the many narratives and ideas emerging from the works, there are three recurring lines of inquiry: First, how representations of the body and persona have evolved in an image-laden culture in which surveillance is widely dispersed and editorializing one’s life in public is the norm; second, if it might be possible to opt out of or reframe the pressures of increasingly corporatized and invasive spaces; and third, how artists are striving to embed their works in the world around them through incursions into media and activism.

The exhibition encompasses a variety of artistic practices, including sound, dance, comedy, poetry, installation, sculpture, painting, video, and one online talk show. If there is any aesthetic link between these diverse works it is in their energetic mutability of form. Together, these works speak to a newfound elasticity in our understanding of what mediums constitute contemporary art. Here, paintings evolve out of 3-D models, digital images erupt into sculpture, and sound becomes action. This is a group of works that attests to how form is continuously converted across word, image, and medium.

“Surround Audience” makes spaces for differing positions among a group of early-career artists. For example, Josh Kline’s installation “Freedom” (2015) explores “our willful dissolution of privacy” via the sharing economy and social media. Eduardo Navarro’s Timeless Alex (2015), a sculptural recreation of an extinct Galapagos tortoise shell that will be inhabited and moved gradually by a dancer at different moments throughout the course of the exhibition, reflects an escape into an alternate state of time and being. Many artists wrestle with technology’s relationship to the body. Among them are Korean choreographer Geumhyung Jeong, who performs sexualized and antagonistic movements on various exercise machines in “Fitness Guide” (2011–15) and Aleksandra Domanović, whose new untitled installation (2014) continues her exploration of the history of prosthetic body parts. Included works also oscillate between more timeless questions – such as in Basim Magdy’s single-channel video The Dent (2014), which imagines the rise and fall of a small town’s utopian dream for revolution – and more explicitly political interrogations like those posed by the duo Exterritory in a new video work that seeks to circulate potentially disruptive or controversial images outside of existing censorious networks.


Many of the works in the Triennial have been commissioned specifically for the show. In the two years leading up to the exhibition, the New Museum has hosted research and production residences for both international and local artists: niv Acosta, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Juliana Huxtable, Geumhyung Jeong, Eduardo Navarro, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, and Luke Willis Thompson. These residencies took different forms: Some consisted of research supported by the New Museum’s curatorial team, while others took place on-site at the studio spaces in the Museum’s adjacent building at 231 Bowery and in the New Museum Theater, which was used as a rehearsal space. Additional new works by Nadim Abbas, Sophia Al-Maria, Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Olga Balema, Frank Benson, Sascha Braunig, José León Cerrillo, Onejoon Che, Tania Pérez Córdova, DIS, Aleksandra Domanović, Casey Jane Ellison, Exterritory, Shadi Habib Allah, Lena Henke, Josh Kline, Eva Kotátková, Oliver Laric, Rachel Lord, Ashland Mines, Avery K. Singer, Martine Syms, and Lisa Tan have also been commissioned or produced for the exhibition.

In addition to works featured in the galleries, the curators selected artists to mobilize sites outside of the Museum, including the means of dispersing information about the exhibition itself. Such projects include the Triennial ad campaign Extended Release (2015), which was conceived and designed by New York artist collective K-HOLE and serves as the group’s contribution to the exhibition. Distant Feel (2015) – a new symbol for empathy designed by Antoine Catala, intended as an “update to the peace sign” – was co-commissioned by the Carnegie Museum of Art and will be made available online as a GIF as well as presented within the show as a sculpture. Finally, episodes of Ovation’s “Touching the Art” (2014–15) – a web series by Casey Jane Ellison that will temporarily become an artwork in “Surround Audience” – will focus on themes broached by the exhibition and will be shot in the Museum.


“Surround Audience” will also be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue designed by Familiar and copublished by the New Museum and Rizzoli. The catalogue will include full-color, four-page spreads on each of the fifty-one artists and groups as well interviews between the artist collective DIS and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, artist; Andrew Durbin, writer, and Frank Benson and Juliana Huxtable, artists;

Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator, and Basim Magdy, artist; and Sara O’Keeffe, Assistant Curator, and Aslı Çavuşoğlu, artist. The catalogue will also include essays by Cornell and Trecartin; Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement; Brian Droitcour, writer; Alexander Provan, writer and Cofounder, Triple Canopy; and Hito Steyerl, artist.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the New Museum will publish a book of poetry, researched and edited by Droitcour. Featuring works by over sixty-nine contributors, including Cathy Park Hong, Dodie Bellamy, Jenny Zhang, Mónica de la Torre, and Bhanu Kapil, with original translations and texts by Triennial artists all interwoven with transcriptions of social media statuses of many varieties, The Animated Reader: Poetry of Surround Audience offers an expansion of the Triennial’s themes in the medium of poetry.


The New Museum Triennial was initiated in 2009. The first edition, “Younger Than Jesus,” was organized by Massimiliano Gioni, Laura Hoptman, and Lauren Cornell. The second Triennial, “The Ungovernables,” was organized by Eungie Joo in 2012.

The 2015 Triennial was organized by Lauren Cornell, Curator, 2015 Triennial, Museum as Hub, and Digital Projects, and artist Ryan Trecartin, with Sara O’Keeffe, Assistant Curator. The catalogue was overseen by Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator.

The 2015 curatorial team, led by Cornell, visited over thirty countries. To strengthen their research, they enlisted a group of luminary curatorial advisors to make recommendations and debate artistic practices. These included Edoardo Bonaspetti, Founder and Editor, Mousse Magazine, Milan; Diana Campbell, Curator and Artistic Director, Samdani Art Foundation, and Chief Curator, Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; Meiya Cheng, freelance curator and Chair, Taipei Contemporary Art Center, Taiwan; Omar Kholeif, writer, editor, and Curator, Whitechapel Gallery, London; Hyunjin Kim, Curator and Director, Arko Art Center, Seoul; Pablo Larios, art critic and writer, Berlin; Andrew Maerkle, writer and Editor, ART.It, Tokyo; Mariangela Méndez, curator and Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá; Kevin McGarry, writer and curator, Los Angeles; Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, writer, filmmaker, and art historian, Accra, Ghana; Caterina Riva, curator, writer, and former Director, Artspace NZ, Auckland; Suzana Sousa, curator and writer, Luanda, Angola; Kate Sutton, writer and researcher; and Philip Tinari, Director, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing.

The full slate of public programs organized in conjunction with the Triennial will be announced in 2015.


Major support is provided by the Friends of the Generational Triennial. The exhibition is also made possible by grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation.


  • Nadim Abbas (b. 1980, Hong Kong, China. Lives and works in Hong Kong, China)
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan (b. 1985, Amman, Jordan. Lives and works in London, UK)
  • niv Acosta (b. 1988, New York, NY, US. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, US)
  • Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983, Enugu, Nigeria. Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, US) Sophia Al-Maria (b. 1983, Tacoma, WA, US. Lives and works in Doha, Qatar, and London, UK) Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili (b. 1979, Tbilisi, Georgia. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany)
  • Ed Atkins (b. 1982, Oxford, UK. Lives and works in London, UK)
  • Olga Balema (b. 1984, Lviv, Ukraine. Lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Berlin, Germany)
  • Frank Benson (b. 1976, Norfolk, VA, US. Lives and works in New York, NY, US)
  • Sascha Braunig (b. 1983, Vancouver Island, Canada. Lives and works in Portland, ME, US)
  • Antoine Catala (b. 1975, Toulouse, France. Lives and works in New York, NY, US)
  • Aslı Çavuşoğlu (b. 1982, Istanbul, Turkey. Lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey)
  • José León Cerrillo (b. 1976, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Onejoon Che (b. 1979, Seoul, South Korea. Lives and works in Seoul, South Korea)
  • Tania Pérez Córdova (b. 1979, Mexico City, Mexico. Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Verena Dengler (b. 1981, Vienna, Austria. Lives and works in Vienna, Austria)
  • DIS (Founded 2010, New York, NY, US)
  • Aleksandra Domanović (b. 1981, Novi Sad, SFR Yugoslavia. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany)
  • Casey Jane Ellison (b. 1988, Los Angeles, CA, US. Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, and New York, NY, US)
  • Exterritory (Founded 2009, the Extraterritorial Waters)
  • Geumhyung Jeong (b. 1980, Seoul, South Korea. Lives and works in Seoul, South Korea)
  • Ane Graff (b. 1974, Bodø, Norway. Lives and works in Oslo, Norway, and Amsterdam, Netherlands) Guan Xiao (b. 1983, Sichuan Province, China. Lives and works in Beijing, China)
  • Shadi Habib Allah (b. 1977, Jerusalem, Palestine. Lives and works in New York, NY, US)
  • Eloise Hawser (b. 1985, London, UK. Lives and works in London, UK)
  • Lena Henke (b. 1982, Warburg, Germany. Lives and works in New York, NY, US)
  • Lisa Holzer (b. 1971, Vienna, Austria. Lives and works in Vienna, Austria, and Berlin, Germany)
  • Juliana Huxtable (b. 1987, Houston, TX, US. Lives and works in New York, NY, US)
  • Renaud Jerez (b. 1982, Narbonne, France. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany)
  • K-HOLE (Founded 2010, New York, NY, US)
  • Shreyas Karle (b. 1981, Mumbai, India. Lives and works in Mumbai, India)
  • Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979, Luanda, Angola. Lives and works in Luanda, Angola, and Lisbon, Portugal) Josh Kline (b. 1979, Philadelphia, PA, US. Lives and works in New York, NY, US)
  • Eva Kotátková (b. 1982, Prague, Czech Republic. Lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic) Donna Kukama (b. 1981, Mafikeng, South Africa. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa) Firenze Lai (b. 1984, Hong Kong, China. Lives and works in Hong Kong, China)
  • Oliver Laric (b. 1981, Innsbruck, Austria. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany)
  • Li Liao (b. 1982, Hubei, China. Lives and works in Shenzhen, China)
  • Rachel Lord (b. 1986, Washington, DC, US. Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, US)
  • Basim Magdy (b. 1977, Assiut, Egypt. Lives and works in Cairo, Egypt, and Basel, Switzerland)
  • Nicholas Mangan (b. 1979, Geelong, Australia. Lives and works in Melbourne, Australia)
  • Ashland Mines (b. 1982, Pittsburgh, PA, US. Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, US)
  • Shelly Nadashi (b. 1981, Haifa, Israel. Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium)
  • Eduardo Navarro (b. 1979, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Steve Roggenbuck (b. 1987, Harbor Beach, MI, US. Lives and works in Brunswick, ME, US)
  • Avery K. Singer (b. 1987, New York, NY, US. Lives and works in New York, NY, US)
  • Daniel Steegmann Mangrané (b. 1977, Barcelona, Spain. Lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Martine Syms (b. 1988, Los Angeles, CA, US. Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, US)
  • Lisa Tan (b. 1973, New York, NY, US. Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Luke Willis Thompson (b. 1988, Auckland, New Zealand. Lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand, and Frankfurt, Germany)
  • Peter Wächtler (b. 1979, Hannover, Germany. Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium, and Berlin, Germany)


The New Museum is the only museum in New York City exclusively devoted to contemporary art. Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation about living artists from around the world. From its beginnings as a one-room office on Hudson Street to the inauguration of its first freestanding building on the Bowery designed by SANAA in 2007, the New Museum continues to be a place of experimentation and a hub of new art and new ideas.

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