Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin, two of the Whitney Museum’s in-house curators, will curate the institution’s next biennial in 2021. The museum announced the appointments today, two weeks after its controversy-mired 2019 biennial officially closed on September 22 (a partial view of the 2019 biennial will run through October 27).
Edwards joined the Whitney in 2018 as the museum’s curator of performance. Prior to that, she served as curator of the Performa biennial in New York and as a curator at large for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Edwards recently organized the lauded exhibition Jason Moran at the Whitney, which she originally curated for the Walker in 2018. The exhibition, which features a series of musical performances, previously traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio. Earlier this year, Edwards organized Moved by the Motion: Sudden Rise, a series of performances based on a text co-written by Wu Tsang, Fred Moten, and artist boychild, which featured a collage of words, film, movements, and sounds.
Breslin, who was recently promoted to the position of curator and director of curatorial initiatives, joined the Whitney in 2016 as curator and director of the museum’s collection. Earlier this year, he co-organized The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, which is currently on view on the Museum’s seventh floor. In 2018, Breslin co-curated the Whitney’s David Wojnarowicz‘s retrospective with David Kiehl. Breslin previously worked at the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, Texas. Before that, he served as the associate director of the research and academic program and associate curator of contemporary projects at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Breslin co-edited Art History and Emergency: Crises in the Visual Arts and Humanities (Yale University Press, 2016), a volume that grew from a Clark Conference he organized with art historian Darby English.
“The central aim of the Biennial is to be a barometer of contemporary American art,” the Whitney’s director, Adam Weinberg, said in a statement. “Each Biennial is a reflection of the cultural and social moment as it intersects with the passions, perspectives, and tastes of the curators,” he continued. “David and Adrienne will be a great team. They are inquisitive, curious, and are acutely attuned to the art of the current moment.”
The Whitney’s next survey of American art in 2021 will be its 80th. It will follow a stormy 2019 biennial that ended in the resignation of a vice-chair at the museum’s board. Warren B. Kanders, who owns the tear gas manufacturer Safariland Group, resigned from his post after months of protests and after eight artists requested their work be withdrawn from the biennial. Protests against Kanders and the museum began in November of 2018 when more than 100 staff members signed a letter demanding the museum respond to a Hyperallergic report linking Kanders to the use of tear at the US-Mexico border. During the 2017 Whitney Biennial protesters demanded the removal and destruction of “Open Casket” (2016), a painting of Emmett Till by Dana Schutz.