New Museum Triennial

Soft Water, Hard Stone

Soft Water, Hard Stone is an illustrated catalogue co-published by the New Museum and Phaidon Press Limited, and designed by Pacific to accompany the triennial exhibition of the same name at the New Museum. It includes contributions from Jamillah James, Margot Norton, Karen Archey, Eunsong Kim, and Bernardo Mosqueira, and features original interviews with all forty artists participating in the exhibition.

The title of the 2021 Triennial, “Soft Water Hard Stone,” is taken from a well-known proverb in Brazil:
Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura (Soft water on hard stone hits until it bores a hole). The proverb can be said to have two meanings: if one persists long enough, the desired effect can eventually be achieved; and time can destroy even the most perceptibly solid materials. The title speaks to ideas of resilience and perseverance, and the impact that an insistent yet discrete gesture can have in time. It also provides a metaphor for resistance, as water—a constantly flowing and often underestimated material—is capable of eventually dissolving stone—a substance associated with permanence, but also composed of tiny particles that can collapse under pressure.


Press: Artnet, Artnews

Published by New Museum & Phaidon, 2021

Designed by Pacific


368 Pages

9 × 11 ½ inches

Edition of 1,500

→ Available at Phaidon