Vincent Gallo Stands Up the Whitney Biennial

Have you seen this man? (via

Like a sad, jilted date, this year’s recently closed Whitney Biennial was left without director, actor, musician and all-around creepster Vincent Gallo’s promised film, entitled ironically Promises Written in Water. And apparently, Gallo didn’t even call.

Dennis Lim, of the New York Times, reports that the Whitney curators Jay Sanders and Elizabeth Sussman admit that they haven’t even heard from Gallo for “a few weeks.”

Best known for his films such as Buffalo 66 and Brown Bunny, as well as being generally antagonistic, Gallo’s name was announced earlier this year to show Promises Written in Water with the rest of the featured artists in the 2012 Biennial. It was finished in 2010 with Gallo absurdly billed as the writer, director, actor, editor, composer and art director, the film has also been billed to be shown at various film festivals but has never actually been shown, which raises the question if Gallo actually intends on ever showing the film.

In the Times article, Jay Sanders admits that he had a feeling due to the unusual nature of his talks with Gallo that the film may never actually appear at the Whitney.

As Sanders explained:

“I always had the thought that maybe it would be an absent presence. I felt even if he chose not to enact anything, it would still have some potency.”

Even though Sanders had an expectation that Gallo may never show the film, his no-show at the Biennial certainly raises a lot of questions, mostly about Gallo’s ego and/or sanity.

Does Vincent Gallo think he’s too good for the Whitney? Is he trying to prove a point to the art establishment? Is this refusal to show the film to anyone at all part of  a strange, rude artistic performance? Or is Gallo really just attempting to sabotage his own odd career?


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