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Taking the artistic pulse of Generation Y

Cheekily titled 'Younger Than Jesus,' New Museum's exhibition looks at the freshness and verve of artists under age 33.

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"Each new generation," according to social commentator Alexis de Tocqueville, "is a new people." Through July 5, the New Museum in New York, which specializes in new art and new ideas, exhibits the visual culture of the generation called the Millennials, composed of artists who came of age after the millennium. The cheekily named exhibition, "The Generational: Younger than Jesus," includes work by 50 artists from 25 countries – all younger than 33 – to see if this cohort has anything in common beyond age.

Not only the title of the show is brazenly irreverent. In the time-honored fashion of rebellious youth, these artists shake up their elders with "huh?"-indu­cing conceptual works. To add an element of surprise, Mexican artist Adriana Lara instructs a museum employee to eat a banana and discard the peel each day for "Installation (Banana Peel)." Such art may literally upset your equilibrium.

Chinese artist Chu Yun's "This is Laura" consists of paid volunteers, young women whose role is to sleep (with the aid of a sleeping pill) under a white duvet in the middle of the gallery. This living sculpture snoozes away like an island of stasis amid the hubbub of churning life.

In "This Consequence," Ryan Gander, from England, also uses a live person to engage viewers. A museum employee wearing a white track suit embroidered with scarlet drops like blood strolls through the galleries. The piece tests our powers of observation and imagination.


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