The 2012 Whitney Biennial

Whitney Biennial 2012

I just saw the 2012 Whitney Biennial. The fourth floor was closed to get ready for K8 Hardy’s Untitled Runway Show, so I didn’t see any performances during my visit. What I did see was a lot of art so unsure of itself that it hedged its bets with lots of references to other works or masqueraded as agents of social change.

We appear to be at a point where there are clear rules for what constitutes “high” art. And I’m not just talking locally. Just look at any of the large, regularly occurring exhibitions around the world and—even if the names are unfamiliar—the language the art employs is not. Unfortunately, it feels like terms more dictated by a marketplace than a set of shared aspirations.

The fact that artists and art viewers are aware of what art is supposed to look like doesn’t mean that compelling work is not being made within that set of expectations—I just didn’t see much at the Whitney.

As an artist, perhaps the best takeaway from this visit is the inspiration to make something that really matters.

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