This week, the Whitney Biennial opens but Occupy Wall Street’s Arts and Labor working group has already started to question the usefulness of the exhibition for artists and cultural workers, many of whom are unpaid to participate.
They take issue with the Biennial, which they clalim “upholds a system that benefits collectors, trustees, and corporations at the expense of art workers.” They go on to puncture holes in the commonly held myth that inclusion in the exhibition is a panacea:
“The biennial perpetuates the myth that art functions like other professional careers and that selection and participation in the exhibition, for which artists themselves are not compensated, will secure a sustainable vocation. This fallacy encourages many young artists to incur debt from which they will never be free and supports a culture industry and financial and cultural institutions that profit from their labors and financial servitude.
The Whitney Museum, with its system of wealthy trustees and ties to the real estate industry perpetuates a model in which culture enhances the city and benefits the 1% of our society while driving others into financial distress. This is embodied both in the biennial’s sponsorship — represented most egregiously in its sponsorship by Sotheby’s, which has locked out its unionized art handlers — and the museum’s imminent move to the Meat Packing District, a neighborhood where artists once lived and worked which is now a gentrified tourist destination that serves the interests of the real estate industry.
We therefore call upon the Whitney in its centennial year to end the biennial and to support the interests of art workers over the capital interests of its trustees and corporate sponsors. As the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City states, ‘We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.’ Art institutions have come to mirror that ethos. We therefore call upon the Whitney to terminate its collusion with this system of injustice and use its resources to imagine sustainable models of creativity and culture that are accessible not just to Americans but to people around the globe.”
The group asks the Whitney to retire the Biennial exhibition in 2014, when it would be celebrating its centennial.
A few weeks ago the same OWS group demanded that New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) stop publishing listings for unpaid internships. NYFA has not responded to the request.
Read the whole letter here.
UPDATED: Somebody (or organization) is pranking the Whitney about their questionable corporate sponsors with a deceiving URL, whitney2012.org. AFC’s Whitney Kimball checked with the Whitney Museum and they said the site is not by them.
As museums readily draft land acknowledgments, they should also be ready to leverage their presence and power on the land to meet the needs of their neighbors today.
Decades later, a letter written by the group has resulted in a permanent exhibition at Bosque Redondo Memorial in New Mexico.
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Assembly Required suggests it is high time to strap on a colorful mask and play with someone you don’t know — or don’t know well enough.
The pet home is on view at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, Wright’s largest public project.
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Nun cho ga, meaning “big baby animal” in the Hän language, is “the most complete mummified mammoth found in North America.
A childhood accident took her arms away but the transgender artist survived to create paintings, photography, and performances focused on depicting the body.
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
Fans of director Claire Denis should check the film out, but as an agnostic, I find it one of her few truly awful pictures.
There are 30 nations represented in the international exhibition. Some aren’t in their best moment today. A comics diary.
Some have compared her album art to John Collier’s 19th-century portrait of Lady Godiva, but Beyoncé can channel her radical spirit without evoking Western art history.