“X under X” lists finally get their comeuppance in a group exhibition of emerging artists at VICTORI + MO.
The '30 under 30' lists by publications like Forbes and Time Magazine are perhaps the ultimate demarcations of status for young professionals and leaders. Although these lists were once focused on entrepreneurs, activists, and tech innovators, they now branch out to categories that are arguably more difficult to concretely quantify success in, like art and style. To highlight both the absurdity of creating these lists for artists and also the contradictory desire within young artists to be part of them, Brooklyn gallery VICTORI + MO has organized a 30-person group exhibition cheekily titled 30 Under 30ish.
The exhibition includes artists both under 30 and in their mid-30s, a looseness in inclusion that is in direct opposition to the strict hierarchy of age imposed by the satirized lists. Rather than focusing on artists who are household names and have already hit large strides in the careers, most of the artists in the show are at the start of their journey as artists, individuals to look out for in coming years but not necessarily the ones hogging the spotlight at this moment.
“We wanted to focus on artists that have just begun to build their exhibition history and they all vary in that regard. Our mantra for curating this exhibition was, 'Truly and simply to seek out and visit young artists who were making great work.'” Tells Ed Victori, one of the founders of VICTORI + MO, to The Creators Project.
Different than your standard group exhibition, the works in 30 Under 30ish are not brought together by a cohesive curatorial theme. The only unifying thread amongst the works is the age range of the artists who made them, resulting in an exhibition that is almost disorienting in its wide stylistic and thematic breadth. Although wall works make up most of the exhibition, they share very little else in common. The overwhelming figurative detail of Virginia Wagner’s Wake brazenly sticks out next to a subdued, almost monochromatic painting by James Case-Leal.
Although there is clearly a degree of parody in the exhibition’s premise, the show’s curators emphasize that they do not bode any hostility towards these types of lists. “At the end of the day, it’s a colorful summer show meant to expose a wide-range of talented artists that we feel passionately about and are beginning to work with,” explains Victori. “I never challenge the validity of who is casted on these lists about art professionals, but rather wonder about the arbitrary creation of them, and so we wanted to do the same and highlight the artists we think are doing great things in the arts.”
“I wouldn’t say that the hierarchies of these lists are useless because they do represent a certain opinion and to say that it doesn’t matter is counterproductive,” Celine Mo, another founder of the gallery and curator of the show, elaborates. “However, I do think that they are just that, one opinion, and we have to acknowledge that there are other people who are just as deserving to be on those lists.”