MARCH 6 - JUNE 1
From March 6-23, the Biennial extends to Park Avenue Armory
The 2008 Biennial, the seventy-fourth in the series of Whitney Annual and Biennial exhibitions held since 1932, presents eighty-one artists working at a time when art production is above all characterized by heterogeneity and dispersal. However, within the enormously differentiated field that we (perhaps absurdly) continue to yoke under the term “contemporary art,” certain prevalent modes of working and thematic concerns are particularly germane to the moment.
Many of the projects presented in the exhibition explore fluid communication structures and systems of exchange that index larger social, political, and economic contexts, often aiming to invert the more object-oriented operations of the art market. Recurring concerns involve a nuanced investigation of social, domestic, and public space and its translation into form—primarily sculptural, but also photographic and cinematic. Many artists reconcile rigorous formal and conceptual underpinnings with personal narratives or historical references. While numerous works demonstrate an explicit or implicit engagement with art history, particularly the legacy of modernism, as well as a pronounced interest in questioning the staging and display of art, others chart the topography and architecture of the decentralized American city and take inspiration from postindustrial landscapes and urban decay. Using humble or austere materials or employing calculated messiness or modes of deconstruction, they present works distinguished by their poetic sensibility as they discover pockets of beauty in sometimes unexpected places.
There is an evident trend toward creating work of an ephemeral, event-based character, in the form of music and other performance, movement workshops, radio broadcasts, publishing projects, community-based activities, film screenings, culinary gatherings, or lectures. Such projects do not stand in opposition to institutions; rather, considering each of these multiple platforms equally important, artists show objects in the museum or gallery even as they seek ways to complicate and transcend its parameters. In this spirit, from March 6–23 the 2008 Biennial continues at Park Avenue Armory with an extensive program of events and performances.
Across media, much work in this year’s Biennial concerns politics although its mode of address is often oblique or allegorical. Persistence, belief, and a desire to locate meaning threads through these many modes and activities rooted in what feels like a transitional moment of history. Rather than positing a definitive answer or approach, these artists exhibit instead a passion for the search, positioned in the immediate reality of our uncertain sociopolitical times.
Register Now for Rita Ackermann and Agathe Snow's Abat-Jour
Sunday, March 23 7 pm
Park Avenue Armory
Ackermann and Snow host a gypsy-themed feast, in
which food, drink, and decoration—as well as the guests
themselves—become materials in the work of art. A play
on the French word for lampshade, Abat-Jour refers
to bajour, a traditional gypsy confidence game. Using
bartering and chance as a central themes, Ackermann
and Snow explore issues related to gender, community,
and celebration. At 9:30 pm all visitors are welcome
to dance in the dinner hall. Courtesy Dom
Perignon, Peres Projects, and Randy Slifka. To register for Agathe Snow's Abat-Jour, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Space is limited.
Rashawn Griffin, Untitled, (Installation view at Whitney Museum of American Art, 2008) 2006. Pockets, blanket, fabric, wool, foam, artificial flower, cotton, and wood, 84 _ x 82 x 10 _ in. (215.3 x 208.3 x 26 cm). Private collection. Courtesy the artist. Photograph by Kat Howard.