FW: Did you encounter anything unexpected about this generation when you were putting together the show?
MG: Well, there were a lot of things. When you look at young artists you expect them to be messy and confusing. I think that’s a patronizing assumption that many people who are older than young artists make. We weren’t coming across artists who were making messy, chaotic work. There are a lot of artists in the exhibition who are making very finished, very beautiful work. There is also very “mature” work — whatever that means. I think that these were the biggest surprises and we were very thankful that our patronizing assumptions were questioned and ultimately criticized by the work itself. As you go through the show there are many recurring themes and many more than we expected when we started. There is for example, the preoccupation with language that seems to be very present, from the videos of Ryan Trecartin where people speak at an incredible speed to the soundtracks of Tris Vonna-Michell and the work of Mariechen Danz in the videos of Guthrie Lonergan. Often, they are speaking very fast or speaking in made up languages. This might be an effect of technology. It might be an effect of a century in which the biggest industry in the world is communication and the industry of words.
There also seems to be a sort of tribalism that emerges from the scenes of fights in Tigran Khachatryan films or the AIDS-3D’s OMG obelisk. There is a collective or a family or a belonging to a group that seems to be quite strong. There’s a pride in belonging to these groups whether it is a family or an alternative family as it is, again, in the work of Trecartin. Then there is, in terms of media, a return to abstraction that I think is very interesting after years of figuration and a certain kind of figurative painting that was also very market oriented. There is a return of photography also and a blurring between whether this photography is documentary or if its fictional. There is a sort of new immediacy and new intimacy in video works. There are some that are very staged but there are others that are like vignettes, as if you turned on the camera and came upon a piece of poetry in your every day life. I think that’s really special and thank god there’s so much more that can’t immediately be labeled as a theme. I think this is what makes a visit to the show so interesting: there is a lot that cannot immediately be translated into words and that you have to experience.
I think that was an effort we consciously made. We wanted to have a sort of fragmented portrait, a portrait that is made of many different pixels and its sort of pulsing with a lot of information. As a way to describe it, because so many even art professionals are surprised by the amount of new information that’s in the show, is we wanted it to be like a party where you don’t know fifty people, but its still a great party. Each one is a stranger to the other, but it’s a great mix.
FW: As you noted earlier, there isn’t single theme that unifies the art in the exhibition. But, you could you ultimately see movements growing out of this work?
MG: I see many, many themes or subtexts. In my essay, I actually I appropriate a term from James Wood who is a critic for The New Yorker. The term is “hysterical realism” and Wood used it to describe the writings of some people at the turn of the millennium so I appropriated that term. But, I also think that this century may be about the passing of the movement. I think, though, that that is a label I would feel most comfortable using for some of the works because there is an attraction to reality. There is a return to reality, a sort of refusal of art for art’s sake, but it’s also sort of hysterical with the use of language and explosion of languages that I mentioned before.