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.