Truth be told, this Saturday was the first time either myself or my friend Tom dared ventured into this mecca for the new. While our spirits were darkened from work, travel and the deluge that has been June in New York, we had high expectations for and afternoon of cultural renewal and thoughtful discourse. Having made our $24 entrance offering we asked the money changer cashier to enlighten us with the story of this "Jesus" show. Were the artists given a brief petitioning them to comment on the ramifications or shifts within today's society and geopolitical landscape as they related to Jesus and Christianity? No. Were the pieces masterful reinterpretations of the Son of God's teachings as told from youth's cynical and angst ridden point of view? No. Did this show put God's only son under the microscope, examine His social contract with man or tug at the shroud of His mythology? No. No. No. However, we were to learn the curator's cardinal criteria and fundamental premiss for this first edition of a proposed triennial would be for each of its participants to fall under the age which Jesus endured His tortuous and bloody death. Wow.
When someone invokes, references and leverages the name of one of the greatest story tellers and cultural leaders the world has ever known, one might imagine the offering to be burdened with a more meaningful context than having been born after 1976. Although The New Museum's own website introduces the show with; “The Generational: Younger Than Jesus” will be the first major international museum exhibition devoted exclusively to the generation born around 1980, tapping into the different perspectives, shared preoccupations, and experiences of a constituency that is shaping the contemporary art discourse and prescribing the future of global culture...“Younger Than Jesus” will capture the signals of an imminent change, identify stylistic trends that are emerging among a diverse group of creators, and provide the general public with a first in-depth look at how the next generation conceives of our world. Revealing new languages and attitudes, the exhibition will comprise a portrait of the agents of change at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
As fancy and divinatory as that all sounds, both Tom and I felt the overall show fell short of a meaningful message for the moment, let alone one which will be shared, recited and revered for generations to come. Although there were some wonderful and engaging individual efforts as well as heart felt conceptual approaches, we felt this shows promise couldn't live up to the measure David Koresh, let alone the man-god Himself.
When Tom and I made our way down to the lobby, I again approached the cashier and told her I had an idea for naming the next show. She looked at me in a puzzled, what the hell are you talking about manner and asked "What did you say?" "I have an idea for the name of the next New Museum show, Taller than Mohammed" I exclaimed. "That would leave me out of contention" she replied as if she had studied his stats that very morning. "But don't you think it would be just as relevant as this show's spurious shock-marketing reference to Jesus?" I retorted.
As she skittishly called for the next person in line I quietly wondered if there would be a second coming to The New Museum for myself or Tom.
My own piece of conceptual art created on the 3rd floor of The New Museum.