Have you seen this man? (via vincentgallo.com)

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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Emily Colucci

Emily Colucci is a recently graduated NYU interdisciplinary Master's student with a focus on art history and gender/sexuality studies. Her interests lie in graffiti, street art and New York-based art from...

21 replies on “Vincent Gallo Stands Up the Whitney Biennial”

  1. this is such a coincidence… I was going to show my work at the Whitney, but they never called me back!

    I don’t understand the type of person who does this…

  2. Vincent Gallo is an amazing, insane and uncontrollable artist. Why would
    anyone believe a leopard would change his spots-or be surprised when it kills its prey in front of everyone?

    He lives by different
    rules. He doesn’t give a flying F*** about notoriety or any of the other
    art world b.s. He offered himself as a prostitute on his own website
    even, for a time, for an example of just how out of the lines he draws. Just accept him as the madman artistic character he is, like
    you would a rock star or a drunkard poet. The world needs these insane artists to keep us from drowning in the hum-drum intellectual blather that can so permeate the art world.

    1. Accepting an invitation and then being a no-show isn’t wild. It’s lame.

      Wild is urinating in Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace during a cocktail party.

  3. I guess I’m wondering why he was invited. I’m sure he’s aware of the pathetic nature of what they show at the Biennial and was probably laughably surprised at the invitation, an invitation to snub if there ever was one. Go Vincent!

  4. Thanks Gallo for taking someones spot, who could have maybe did something……after brown bunny and the need to show your erection, I think its time to stick to the music, which is just great…wow!

  5. I do know that his lawyers are busy suing for copyright infrigement…very artistic

  6. Or maybe the film is just so utterly, execrably bad that his career gets a big bump from this kind of behavior than it would if he actually showed it anywhere.

  7. Do a little research before you make accusations – the film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010, where I saw it.

  8. Why did the Whitney choose to include a “film” they had never seen? Hmmm??
    Who is riding whose coattails?

  9. The title seems to say it all. A promise written in water is one swept away by the very nature of its context. Makes sense in an early conceptual art way w/r/t the concern with the immaterial. Of course, these days, since that ground is well-covered, it’s probably better to actually make something and show it than to make meaning out of nothing.

  10. ” Gallo absurdly billed as the writer, director, actor, editor, composer and art director,…” I’ve only seen Buffalo 66, and when I saw his name all in the credits it made perfect sense. I thought the movie lacked a good story line, and it had no depth. It was almost about as ridiculous as Gallo’s ego. I wouldn’t have even wasted my time writing up this little article you’ve given all of us. If he wasn’t in the Biennial…I say good for the Biennial. Im sure it didn’t miss anything of great artistic value, but someone else could have had that spot and did a better job.

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