With few exceptions (the one for me being Cyprien Gaillard’s 30-minute video Desniansky Raion—fueled by the electro-pop music of Koudlam, it’s a hypnotic ballet of images of social devastation wreaked by public housing) much of "Younger than Jesus" looks like an extreme version of Show and Tell (if anyone does actually make something, it's with tongue implanted in cheek) which might not be surprising for an age-group raised on praise. As one of my graduate students at SVA put it, “Everything we did was put up on the refrigerator.” MFA programs have continued the praise game—or at least the encouragement game—because to discourage a student would be to cut off a significant source of revenue.
Clip from Cyprien Gaillard's Desniansky Raion
Through its music we know that this generation has verve, energy, and innovation to burn, coming up in the world at a time when technology has not only extended music-making capability, but liberated music distribution from the corporate stranglehold—while visual art remains filtered and controlled by institutions driven by agendas that have little to do with quality. The lowered bar and limited lens has to be discouraging to those twenty-something visual artists who have something new and valid to contribute (some of whom—like Kehinde Wiley—may, gasp, still take painting seriously). Historically art has tended to thrive when real estate prices are low (New York’s Downtown scene in the eighties, the more recent migration of artists to low-rent Berlin), so if we’re lucky, the economic downturn will result in increased opportunities for artists to take things into their own hands.
I’m not sure what—other than a sensationalist marketing tool—the reference to Jesus is all about, but another comparison might be “older than Artemisia Gentileschi” –who made this painting at 16:
Susanna and Her Elders (1610) Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653)