"The Great Ephemeral"
May 27 - September 6 2015
“The Great Ephemeral” responds to the speculative nature of the global market, both by exploring its intangible, even emotional, aspects and by offering clear-eyed commentary on its inequalities. This exhibition is part of a season of programming organized by the New Museum’s Education Department that examines aspects of speculation, including its volatile relationship to faith as well as alternative economies focused on caregiving and collective labor. “The Great Ephemeral” is curated in collaboration with Meiya Cheng of Taipei Contemporary Art Center (TCAC), a platform dedicated to artists, curators, scholars, and cultural activists.

The works on view reflect an “ephemeral existence” in which our material circumstances, both in art and life, can feel precarious, abstract, and out of control. The artists featured in the exhibition react to this condition using various forms of protest: some responses are incisive, while others counter the market’s contradictions with equal measures of irrationality and play. Works in “The Great Ephemeral” include Constantina Zavitsanos’s tower of personal and familial debt spanning 278 years; Nir Evron’s photographic series, which depicts the rapid construction of a Palestinian housing development whose architecture mirrors the ubiquitous Westernized style of hotels and condominiums instead of that of the surrounding local culture; and Chou Yu-Cheng’s paintings, which, as copies of originals by British artist Geoff Molyneux, challenge an art market that values originality and authenticity. Presented as part of the New Museum’s international partnership program Museum as Hub, the exhibition captures preoccupations shared by artists around the world and how they manifest artistically and socially. Artists include Chen Chieh-jen, Heman Chong, Chou Yu-Cheng, Nir Evron, Joel Holmberg, Chelsea Knight, Lee Kit, Minouk Lim, Jun Yang, Yao Jui-Chung, and Constantina Zavitsanos.

For “The Great Ephemeral,” artist Heman Chong invites Museum visitors to memorize a short story he has written in response to the exhibition’s themes of speculation. Please email thegreatephemeral@newmuseum.org to make an appointment. Visitors will be taught the story by New Museum staff. Appointments are available during Museum hours: Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The Great Ephemeral” is co-curated by Meiya Cheng, Curator, Taipei Contemporary Art Center and Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement, New Museum; Lauren Cornell, Curator, 2015 Triennial, Digital Projects, and Museum as Hub, New Museum; and Sara O’Keeffe, Assistant Curator, New Museum.
Guest curator
New Museum curators
Public Program
Courtesy the artist and New Museum, New York