Steven Squibb writes about the Whitney Biennial, at ArtCal Zine,
Much has been made of the supposed theme of the show, ‘lessness,’ as though the works on display were trying to provincialize and impoverish themselves to the point of barely existing at all, thus opting out of the various economies currently striating the field. Quite frankly, I don’t see it. Only one artist, Seth Price, seems to be actively engaged in such a performance of self-marginalization and, given the specifics of his situation and his work, it is altogether interesting and meaningful for him to do so. The rest seem to be arguing, sometimes softly, to be sure, but sometimes quite loudly, that there might be more at stake at the present moment than a public demonstration of their own righteousness with regards an overheated market and its corresponding discourse, and that, following perhaps the rest of us need to pull over in order to check the map.
The sentiment is well received, though one minor point of descent; Squibb doesn’t explain why Seth Price is the only artist who actively engages in self marginalization. The work in the Biennial is about as gallery ready as you’re going to get, and while I don’t dismiss his work as a whole, I haven’t been able reconcile the conflict in labeling what he does as self marginalization when he shows at blue chip galleries, and moves his work through established channels of distribution, like ubuweb, EAI. It just doesn’t make sense.
In other Biennial reviews, probably the oddest position I’ve seen taken on the Biennial comes from portfolio.com’s Alexandra Peers,
In this shaky art market, collectors are searching more aggressively than ever for confirmation of their choices. And the Whitney’s endorsement of dealers matters more than ever because, as a whole, this Biennial is going to influence artists less than in the past because they aren’t traded much. Only about a fourth of the artists shown have ever sold a work at auction, even though most are established enough to have had such a sale. (More than half are in their 30s and 40s.)
Based on the above comments I’m not any further ahead in deducing why a downturn in the economy should mean that the biennial won’t influence artists as much, or why it follows that its endorsement will be more significant to dealers. Perhaps someone can explain this these art world nuances to me, because that’s one that’s lost on me.