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The New Normal

April 10, 2010 - July 4, 2010

AWE Gallery

The New Normal brings together 13 artworks that explore the increasing exposure of the private sphere to public view, whether voluntary or involuntary. Each of the works shown was completed after October 2001, when Vice President Cheney described new government surveillance measures after 9/11 as “the new normalcy.” At the same time, as telephones were tapped and airline passengers were searched, many of us willingly began to document and share aspects of our own lives online, for convenience or community.

Personal information has become a readily available raw material. In response to this shift, many of the artists featured in The New Normal have used other people’s private information and images — home videos, financial data, leaked documents — as the basis of their work. By doing so, they offer disconcerting glimpses into the lives of neighbors, strangers, and celebrities, while making visible the social and aesthetic conventions that lie behind these disclosures.

Other artists in the exhibition adopt self-disclosure as a strategy, one that seemingly conflicts with the need for privacy. These artists willingly reveal their own bodies, their consumer habits, and their domestic spaces. For some of them, this reflects the social desire to build intimacy; for others, it is framed as a gesture of defiance in response to the intrusiveness of surveillance.

Taken as a whole, the works in The New Normal suggest that access to private information is a currency whose circulation is growing and evolving. We may find this exchange both frightening and fascinating, but we are inescapably complicit in its perpetuation.

The New Normal is a traveling exhibition co-organized by iCI (Independent Curators International), New York, and Artists Space, New York, and circulated by iCI. The guest curator for the exhibition is Michael Connor. The exhibition, tour, and catalogue are made possible, in part, with funding to iCI from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the iCI independents, The Cowles Charitable Trust, and The Overbrook Foundation; and to Artists Space from the Starry Night Fund of the Tides Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the David S. Howe Foundation, the John S. Johnson and Susan R. Short Foundation, Yvon Lambert, the supporters of the Artists Space Publications Program, and the British Council.

Read the Canadian Art online review of The New Normal 

ICI NYC Curators discussion re: The New Normal part 1 of 3

ICI NYC Curators discussion re: The New Normal part 2 of 3

ICI NYC Curators discussion re: The New Normal part 3 of 3

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