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.
Photo by Sheldan C. CollinsInstallation view of 2012 Whitney Biennial Pictured: works by K8 Hardy
Wild Night in El RenoFilm still courtesy of UBU
Untitled, Nicole EisenmanCourtesy of Leo Koenig, Inc.
Untitled, Nicole EisenmanPhoto by Greg Stefano
Photo by Sheldan C. CollinsPictured: Dawn Kasper, THIS COULD BE SOMETHING IF I LET IT, from the series Nomadic Studio Practice Experiment.