The Whitney Museum Still Doesn’t Pay All Its Artists

by Corinna Kirsch on March 10, 2014 · 6 comments Whitney Biennial

The artist hard at work. Photo courtesy of Autumn Ramsey.

The Whitney Museum’s hidden artist hard at work. Photo courtesy of Autumn Ramsey via Facebook.

The Whitney has done it again. In the 2012 Whitney Biennial, artist Dawn Kasper set up a studio and lived in the museum for three months, unpaid. This Biennial, the museum’s produced yet another residency without monetary reward—or heat. Artist Diego Leclery is playing the video game Civilization—from morning until night, every hour the museum is open, outside the institution’s building. It’s a full-time gig.

In an ideal world, we would be talking about the artist’s work, not the Whitney’s failure to compensate its artists. Diego Leclery—any artist, really—deserves that. His is an obsessive performance, with the kind of steadfast dedication to video games that one would expect an artist to apply to their chosen craft.

But the Whitney’s gaffe too large to overlook, and here’s why: They’re compensating some artists, and not others. My Barbarian, for one, received a small stipend for travel and production of their play “My Mother,” performed four times a week at the museum for the next three weeks. Leclery is on his own until May. When I saw him at the museum yesterday, he mentioned it’d be nice to have some company, and maybe a cup of hot soup. It’d also be nice for Leclery to get paid.



Shawn Chapman March 11, 2014 at 6:19 am

I would advise Mr. Leclery to just go home, and play his video game in the comfort of his own residence. But I guess the question is: would that really be art?

thorn March 13, 2014 at 8:39 am

i think the rationale is, if you are one of the chosen ones, you’ve kinda won the lottery. i was paid about $300. by the Whitney when included in the ’97 biennial. (under another name) Most of us don’t do it for money anyway, so some punk change is like icing on a virtual cake…

Mr Ed March 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

I believe you are mistaken, Mr. Leclery may have just said that as part of his art. He is indeed being reimbursed for his work, extacly as Thorn said. Be careful what you report.

Paddy Johnson March 14, 2014 at 11:24 am

We know Diego and spoke to him about the issue of payment. He was not being paid at the time of this reporting.

Corinna Kirsch March 18, 2014 at 10:51 am

Yes, if he has been paid, we will clearly update the post.

carolina March 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for the article, I admire this person- artist so much for this and his work that just had discovered. Amazing ! Wow!

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