New Museum Triennial aims to deliver a message for our times

Every selected artist has a "degree of political and social engagement", curator says

Violet Dennison’s installation Transcend (2017) warns of the impact of pollution Fotografie Mareike Tocha; Courtesy of the artist and Jan Kaps, Cologne

The New Museum Triennial has previously billed itself as a predictive rather than retrospective exhibition of contemporary art. However, for the fourth edition, titled Songs for Sabotage, the co-curators Gary Carrion-Murayari and Alex Gartenfeld are aiming to emphasise the present. As Carrion-Murayari explains: “The artists we find most compelling at this moment are the artists who are trying to confront issues that resonate with us now.”

To that end, the 26 artists in the New York exhibition are producing works in a variety of media with a pressing sense of urgency. “Every artist we picked has a certain degree of political and social engagement,” Carrion-Murayari says.

This is at once local and international. The US artist Violet Dennison, for instance, will cover a wall with dying seagrasses pulled from the beaches of Miami, Florida, as a commentary on global industrial production and its impact on the world’s oceans.

Daniela Ortiz’s series of ceramic sculptures is likewise timely. The Peruvian artist, who is based in Spain, has envisioned new public monuments for Lima, Barcelona and New York that salute indigenous community leaders. “It’s something that obviously resonates with discussions we’re having here about monuments in the US,” Carrion-Murayari says.

• New Museum Triennial: Songs for Sabotage, New York, 13 February-27 May

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 298 February 2018