Generation 1.5 is an exhibition of the work of eight artists who emigrated in their teenage years. The term “generation 1.5” is used in some communities to describe those who are neither adult immigrants nor American born – the in-between generation of people who moved from one country to another between the ages of 12 and 18. Already undergoing physical and intellectual change during these formative years, 1.5 generation individuals also experience a change in context, in language, in culture. The premise of the exhibition is that the relationship of a 1.5 artist to their adopted country is different than that of a person who immigrated when they were much younger or older. Generation 1.5 is curated by Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art, Tom Finkelpearl and Chief Curator, Valerie Smith. The exhibition will be on view at the museum from June 10 - December 2, 2007. The participating artists are: Ellen Harvey, Pablo Helguera, Emily Jacir, Lee Mingwei, Shirin Neshat, Seher Shah, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Nari Ward.
Some of the issues surrounding the 1.5 generation center on immigration, cultural dislocation and memory, hybridity, acceptance, exile and perhaps a certain type of transgression: critique of their native country or their adopted country, a freedom to be revolutionary or assimilated in both places. However, these issues are not explicitly addressed in all the works. In some cases, they are subtly implied. Generation 1.5 is a term that is contested and defined differently by sociologists, but the curators have taken the meaning that they first heard in Queens – those who came between the ages of 12 and 18. While many of the artists are classic “1.5ers” who came in their teen years, others traveled extensively throughout their lives. With the exception of Ellen Harvey’s, A Whitney for the Whitney at Philip Morris/Altria or I Can Be An American Visionary Too! (2003) all the works are new, reworked or never-before-exhibited in New York.
Generation 1.5 is made possible with funding generously provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Crystal Windows and Door Systems, Ltd., the Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan, R.O.C. in Collaboration with Taipei Cultural Center, TECO in New York, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.