When it comes to the word “diversity,” what are we really referring to?
Adam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, was candid in his opening day remarks when he commented that the Biennial had in the past been thought of — or was criticized for not being — a representative snapshot of American art.
Whitney Biennial curator Anthony Elms took on the nebulous meaning of “American art” most directly in his selections, but the results don’t really say a lot about what it means to be American — at least not in a way that makes it distinct from Canadian, Australian, Argentinean, or some other national identity forged in the modern era by immigration, capitalism, environmental devastation, and a displacement of indigenous cultures.
The 2014 Whitney Biennial has many things: oversized ceramics, big abstract and figurative paintings, experimental jazz, videos of people having sex, and bead curtains. What it doesn’t have all that much of is politics.
CHICAGO — The 2014 Whitney Biennial won’t be like every biennial before it. The always anticipated art world event will partly be a response to the Occupy movement’s call to end the Whitney Biennial, which charged that the major exhibition was just another art world commercial interest, and it will also be a swan song to the Whitney’s longtime home in the Marcel Breuer building, but many people may not realize that the event will also be different as it will welcome a Chicago curatorial approach into the mix, and that’s very exciting.