Gender exhibition installation view at the New Museum in New York

“Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon,” 2017. Exhibition View: New Museum. Photo: Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio

The New Museum is well known for its radical programme of exhibitions targeting issues of social representation, but “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” is arguably one of the most important to be housed by the space. Bringing together work from over forty intergenerational artists (including Josh Faught, Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, Ellen Lesperance, Mickalene Thomas, and Candice Lin), across a variety of mediums and genres, including film, video, performance, painting, sculpture and photography, the exhibition contests the gender binary, exploring fluid and more inclusive expressions of identity by developing new vocabularies and imagery.

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Tschabalala Self artwork Mane for gender exhibition in New York

Tschabalala Self, Mane, 2016. Lewben Art Foundation Collection. Courtesy the artist; Pilar Corrias, London; T293, Naples and Rome; and Thierry Goldberg, New York. Special thanks to Pilar Corrias and T293

Yet these works are by no means mere utopian reconstructions, the artistic practices are plugged firmly into current gender discourses, recognising the complex intersections with race, class, sexuality, and disability. One of the most notable works includes a braided sculpture by Diamond Stingily that trails from the fourth floor down to the lobby, alluding to the racial dimensions of beauty conventions as well as to Medusa, whose gaze could turn men into stone. It’s a powerful reminder of art’s potency as, in the words of Schiller, our ‘second creatress’ of new worlds and perspectives.

Millie Walton

“Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” runs until 21st January 2018 at the New Museum, New York