Highlights and Lowlights at the Whitney Biennial

by Art Fag City on March 5, 2008 · 7 comments Events

An in depth review of the Biennial is forthcoming, but in the meantime I’d like to share a few highlights and lowlights from the show.

Not bad! An installation shot of the fourth floor, featuring the work of (from right to left) Heather Rowe, Rodney McMillian, and Olivier Mosset. Photo AFC

John Baldessari, Installation view, photo AFC

Not good. John Baldessari may be an established artist relevant to art making today, but those recent paintings above aren’t influencing anyone. At least I hope they don’t.
Omer Fast, The Casting, 2007, Production still, 14 minutes, Photo AFC

My viewing of the Biennial is incomplete because I haven’t seen the majority film program yet, but so far Fast wins my pick for best in show. His video The Casting mixes a sergeant’s compelling recollections of a bad romantic affair with the accidental shooting an Iraqi suggesting these edits might mimic the same distortions the soldier himself describes of his memories.

Kembra Pfahler, New York, New York, New York “Actresstocracy”, 2008, detail, Photo AFC

Worse in show goes to Kembra Phfahler‘s baby dolls o’dread. It looks like Scope miss placed one of their artists in this Biennial.

Melanie Schiff, Water Birth
Phoebe Washburn, It Makes for my Billionaire Status, 2007 Photo AFC

We all knew eco art would have to be included in the Biennial this year, but Washburn doesn’t do a bad job as far as that kind of investigation goes. Feeding plants with Gatorade and growing them in golf balls the artist transforms discarded materials into complex architectural forms. Of course, my own background might make me partial to this particular piece; I grew up on a farm, played a lot of golf as a teenager, and not two years ago, grew to crave Gatorade while training for a marathon. This work definitely speaks to my interests.

Sherrie Levine, Body Mask, 2007, Photo AFC

These sculptures look like inverted urinals to me, which unfortunately may be a more interesting reading than the serial gold belly and boobs Levine presents. Make this strike two for cannonical artists presenting work in the Biennial. You’d think there was some sort of mandate on the part of the Museum’s curators to chose the worst work by established artists. Richard Serra at the last biennial and Mel Bochner before him immediately come to mind.

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