Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon

Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon

New Museum

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Darkroom Mirror (0X5A1531), 2017. Archival pigment print, 51 x 34 inches. Courtesy the artist; Yancey Richardson, New York; and Document, Chicago.

September 20, 2017
Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon
September 27, 2017–January 21, 2018
The Store X and the New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

This fall, in conjunction with its 40th anniversary, the New Museum will present Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, a major exhibition investigating gender’s place in contemporary art and culture at a moment of political upheaval and renewed culture wars. Occupying the three main floors of the New Museum, the exhibition will feature an intergenerational group of artists who explore gender beyond the binary to usher in more fluid and inclusive expressions of identity.

The New Museum has been committed to urgent ideas since its inception, devoting many exhibitions and programs over the years to issues of representation with regard to gender and sexuality: Extended Sensibilities (1982), Difference (1984–85), HOMO VIDEO (1986–87), and Bad Girls (1994) are just four notable examples. Following in this tradition, Trigger extends the conversation around identity, considering how even a fluid conception of gender is marked by ongoing negotiations of power and cannot be understood outside its complex intersections with race, class, sexuality, and disability. The exhibition’s title, Trigger, takes into account that word’s range of meanings, variously problematic and potent; the term evokes both traumatic recall and mechanisms that, set into motion, are capable of igniting radical change.

The exhibition will feature over forty emerging and established artists working across a variety of mediums and genres, including film, video, performance, painting, sculpture, photography, and craft. Many of the artists embrace explicit pleasure and visual lushness as political strategies, and some deliberately reject or complicate overt representation, turning to poetic language, docufiction, and abstraction to affirm ambiguities and reflect shifting physical embodiment. Beauty is not supplemental to politics here, but central to the process of positing new worlds and social structures. Developing emergent vocabularies necessarily entails a productive reworking of historical configurations for a number of these artists, who turn to archival materials in order to critique, build upon, and explore longstanding debates around intersectionality and alliance. The artists in Trigger share a desire to contest repressive orders and to speculate on alternative forms and aesthetics—a desire to picture other futures. Representing no single point of view, and in some cases presenting productively contradictory positions, they consider gender’s capacity to represent a more general refusal of stable categorization, a refusal at the heart of today’s most compelling artistic practices.

The exhibition is curated by Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement, with Sara O’Keeffe, Assistant Curator, and Natalie Bell, Assistant Curator. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue designed by Joseph Logan and published by the New Museum. The catalogue includes essays by Rizvana Bradley and Jeannine Tang, as well as a conversation between Julia Bryan-Wilson and Mel Y. Chen. It also includes genealogies organized by Sara O’Keeffe, an institutional archival portfolio organized by Kate Wiener, and transcripts of roundtable conversations between members of the exhibition’s advisory group: Lia Gangitano, Ariel Goldberg, Jack Halberstam, Fred Moten, and Eric A. Stanley.

Morgan Bassichis, Sadie Benning, Nayland Blake, Justin Vivian Bond, Gregg Bordowitz, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Nancy Brooks Brody, A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner, Leidy Churchman, Liz Collins, Vaginal Davis, Harry Dodge, The Dyke Division of the Two-Headed Calf, Josh Faught, ektor garcia, Mariah Garnett, Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, Sharon Hayes, House of Ladosha, Stanya Kahn, Carolyn Lazard, Simone Leigh, Ellen Lesperance, Candice Lin, Troy Michie, Ulrike Müller, Willa Nasatir, Sondra Perry, Christina Quarles, Connie Samaras, Curtis Talwst Santiago, Tschabalala Self, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Tuesday Smillie, Sable Elyse Smith, Patrick Staff, Diamond Stingily, Mickalene Thomas, Wu Tsang, Chris E. Vargas, Geo Wyeth, Anicka Yi

Opening night performances by Justin Vivian Bond, Nayland Blake, and Simone Leigh with Rashida Bumbray, Cecily Bumbray, Samora Pinderhughes, and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Public programs

What’s Wrong with Rights?
Panel discussion
Thursday, November 9, 7pm

Triple X Feature: A.K. Burns & A.L. Steiner’s Community Action Center, Kajsa Dahlberg’s Female Fist, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s SUBJECT-OBJECT PROOF, no.3 (Nico, smelling)
Screening followed by artist talk with Burns, Steiner, and Sepuya
Thursday, January 18, 7pm


Vaginal Davis: Blick und Begehren (Gaze and Desire)
Thursday, September 28, 7pm

Nayland Blake: Crossing Object (inside Gnomen)
Friday, September 29, 1–5pm
Saturday, October 7, 1–5pm
Saturday, November 11, 1–5pm
Friday, December 1, 1–5pm
Saturday, December 16, 1–5pm
Saturday, January 13, 1–5pm

Geo Wyeth: Juice CrosxxxSing
Thursday October 12, 7pm

Morgan Bassichis: The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions The Musical
Thursday, October 19, 7:30pm
Saturday, November 18, 7:30pm
Sunday, December 17, 7:30pm

The Dyke Division of the Two-Headed Calf’s Room for Cream Season Four: The Mini-Series
Saturday, October 28, 6:30pm & 8pm
Saturday, November 11, 6:30pm & 8pm
Saturday, December 9, 6:30pm & 8pm

Justin Vivian Bond: My Model | My Self: I’ll Stand By You
Tuesday, October 31, 5pm
Friday, December 1, 5pm
Thursday, December 21, 3pm

Gregg Bordowitz: Some Styles of Masculinity
Rock Star: Friday, January 19, 7pm
Rabbi: Saturday, January 20, 7pm
Comedian: Sunday, January 21, 7pm


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New Museum
September 20, 2017

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