July 8, 2008 - New Museum - After Nature
July 8, 2008

After Nature

Maurizio Cattelan, Untitled, 2007
Taxidermied horse skin and fiberglass resin
118 1/8 x 66 7/8 x 31 1/2 in
(300 x 168.5 x 80 cm)
Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

“After Nature”
July 17 – September 21, 2008

Opening reception July 16
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002


Departing from the fictional documentaries of Werner Herzog and drawing its title from W.G. Sebald’s visionary book of the same name, “After Nature” unfolds as a visual novel, depicting a future landscape of wilderness and ruins. Bringing together an international and multigenerational group of contemporary artists, filmmakers, writers, and outsiders, many of whom are showing in an American museum for the first time, the exhibition is a feverish examination of humankind’s relationship to nature. Organized by Massimiliano Gioni, Director of Special Exhibitions, the show spans three floors and includes over ninety works.

Part dystopian fantasy, part ethnographic museum of a lost civilization that eerily resembles our own, “After Nature” brings together artists and artworks that possess a strange, prophetic intensity. When seen in this context, Zoe Leonard’s giant sculpture of a crippled tree, Maurizio Cattelan’s fallen horse, Reverend Howard Finster’s delirious sermon cards, and Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s apocalyptic finger paintings resonate like a requiem for a vanishing planet.

Artists such as Fikret Atay, Roger Ballen, Robert Kusmirowski, Diego Perrone, and Artur Zmijewski seem fascinated by mystic apparitions, arcane rites, and spiritual illuminations, while Allora and Calzadilla, Nancy Graves, and William Christenberry depict a universe in which the traces of humans have been erased and new ecological systems struggle to find a precarious balance.

The works of Huma Bhabha, Berlinde De Bruyckere, and Thomas Schütte share an archaic quality. Their magic realism transforms sculpture into myth-making and gives birth to a cast of fantastical creatures, including sylvan beings, totemic figures, and neo-primitive idols. These elements also find life in Tino Sehgal’s intricate choreographies: for the duration of the exhibition dancers carry out gestures that could be seen as mysterious rituals and states of ecstasy. Recuperating ancient techniques, Pawel Althamer uses grass and animal intestines to produce vulnerable sculptures and puppets to arrive at a new form of storytelling. Other works, like the animations of Nathalie Djurberg, the imaginary maps of Roberto Cuoghi, or the video travelogue of Erik van Lieshout, guide viewers to the edge of the earth, taking us for a walk in the fictional woods of our near future, while expressing a sincere preoccupation for the world as it is now.

The exhibition will include work by Allora and Calzadilla, Pawel Althamer, Micol Assaël, Fikret Atay, Roger Ballen, Huma Bhabha, Maurizio Cattelan, William Christenberry, Roberto Cuoghi, Bill Daniel, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Nathalie Djurberg, Reverend Howard Finster, Nancy Graves, Werner Herzog, Robert Kusmirowski, Zoe Leonard, Klara Liden, Erik van Lieshout, Diego Perrone, Thomas Schütte, Dana Schutz, Tino Sehgal, August Strindberg, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, and Artur Zmijewski.

“After Nature” is made possible by the Leadership Council of the New Museum. Major support provided by David Teiger. Additional support provided by Kati Lovaas, Randy Slifka, and the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

Founded in 1977, the New Museum is Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum and among the most respected internationally, with a curatorial program known for its global scope and adventurousness. With the inauguration of our new, state-of-the-art building on the Bowery, the New Museum is a leading destination for new art and new ideas.

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