Whitney Biennial 2014 Artists Announced
By Chloe Mandryk
Following the highly praised co-curated Whitney Biennial of 2012, for the 2014 edition, which commences in March, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York will bring in not two but three curators, further diversifying the event's range and scope. Stuart Comer, chief curator of media and performance art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Anthony Elms, associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and Michelle Grabner, artist and professor in the painting and drawing department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will channel their collective experiences to give the Biennial a “bold new form.”
Each curator has been allotted one floor of the Whitney’s 75th street location—this will be the last biennial to take place on the premises as the museum will soon relocate to lower Manhattan’s Meatpacking District—from which they are invited to explore their particular geographic vantages and curatorial methodologies. This format will allow the curators “to react” to one another, Elms told ArtAsiaPacific. “I can only think of it as three chapters of the same book,” he said. “We didn't need to agree on each other's choices. They will be distinct, and I think there are palpable differences in the way our three angles come together in the exhibition.”
This intermingling of ideas will inform the types of works being presented in the Biennial as well. There will be writers who paint, painters who write, filmmakers who create sculptures and photographers who draw. Discipline-bending exhibitors will include Lebanese-American poet, essayist and visual artist Etel Adnan, Japanese ceramicist Shio Kusaka, Australian sculptor Ricky Swallow and Japanese artist Ei Arakawa, who will work alongside conceptual artist Carissa Rodriguez.
“We did not each invite an equal number of artists, so there will be different densities, we are trying to carve out some moments for encounters with sound and performance and writing,” Elms said. In addition to their varying levels of engagement with conventional art forms, individuals on the roster are also at different stages of their career. American author David Foster Wallace, who will have a contribution in the show, for example, passed away in 2008.
“I do know that all of us had an interest in people who cross disciplines or activities, people who have dedicated time to teaching, or maybe writers who also make art or are involved with art, artists with an interest in sound or writing or dance,” Elms elaborated, “Basically, I think boundary troubles were of interest to all three of us.”
While the 103 participants selected to partake in the 2015 edition make this “the broadest and most diverse take on art in the United States,” according to the Whitney's website, there has been some concern regarding the under-representation of female and black artists, of which there are 38 and 9, respectively. Whether or not the curators can fully address such disparities with their interdisciplinary, generation-spanning selection remains to be seen.