Whitney Biennial: celebrating diversity
The Whitney Biennial, now in its 76th edition, is a key player in the promotion of American artists
Between the New Museum’s The Ungovernables, a triennial where artists are mostly under 33 and from off-the-radar countries, the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s tongue-in-cheek Brucennial and the Whitney Biennial, in early 2012 New York has seen a plethora of works from emerging artists from all over the world.
And while the art market has been focused on painting, which many collectors still consider a safe value, the Whitney emphasizes that a rich array of artistic disciplines, including dance, performance, music and theater, belong in the museum too, and that the boundaries between those disciplines are blurry, not fixed.
This year marked the first time in the history of Whitney Biennials that a full floor was dedicated to performances, events and residencies. “Taking the pulse of the time through the immediate experience of art is what the Whitney Biennial is all about,” say the show’s curators Elisabeth Sussman and Jay Sanders. “It’s important to us to present not only the visual arts, but also performance, film and music. As curators, we had a shared notion of this expanded field of the arts that was one of the things that made it natural for us to work together. And while the performing artists in the show may fall into defined categories – dance or theater or the like – we think many of them have a lot of connecting points and dialogue with the visual arts. It’s a discourse that’s out there.”
Performer/filmmaker Wu Tsang is screening the film WILDNESS (2012), documenting the convergence of two disparate cultures at an LA bar that serves as a social space for transgender Latinas. He also created an installation on the fourth floor that functions as a green room. New York-based artist K8 Hardy, whose work crosses many lines from film and photography to fashion (she created FashionFashion zine and co-founded the queer feminist art collective LTTR), is presenting a full-fledged fashion runway show on May 20. Whoever said art was insular and elitist?