Now in its 76th year, the bi-annual compendium has gathered a new group of 51 contemporary artists to take over the museum through 27 May. While the focus on performance has become a central one in 2012, we found a group of four artists across different mediums—from sculpture, painting, film and living installation—each dynamic in their own right. Here, just a small selection of highlights from our walk through the Whitney Biennial.
The multi-faceted multi-media artist behind the lesbian zine FashionFashion and the "feminist queer artists' collective" LTTR presents a set of characteristically contemplative wall-mounted sculptures. The conversation around gender identity can grow noisy, but Hardy manages to cut through the chatter with a genuine, thoughtful perspective addressing fashion advertising. Besides her installations, which combine flashy and everyday products, and accessories like hair extensions oddly plucked out of context, Hardy will stage a runway show 20 May.
Turn a corner on the third floor and Dawn Kasper's lilting voice—along with the whirring of a spinning tennis racket on a motorized stand—carries through the hushed gallery. In the spirit of Marina Abramovic's seemingly hot-again performance stylings, the LA-based artist brings her Nomadic Studio Practice Experiment to the Whitney for the duration of the Biennial. Living, working and interacting with museum-goers for three months turns her creative process into a real-time, interactive installation.
The venerable underground filmmaker passed away in September 2011, and the Biennial pays tribute with a series of screenings of his lauded Weather Diaries. In characteristic revelatory fashion, Kuchar's Hi-8 films document the mundanity and anticipation of his yearly trips to the El Reno motel in "tornado-alley" Oklahoma.
Nicole Eisenman's installation dominates almost an entire room. The artist's powerful and introspective portraits are deeply striking, instantly drawing the viewer in for a closer look. The work, which at times appears crude, instead offers deep insight into the human experience through shifting lines, wild expressive characters and a feeling of general chaos combined with melancholy detachment.