A Gay Ol' Tour of the 2014 Whitney Biennial
The Whitney Museum of American Art opened its 77th Biennial this month. It also happens to be the last survey of American art that will take place in its historic, landmarked Breuer building on East 75th Street. While the Whitney isn't closing, just relocating to New York City's Meatpacking District alongside the High Line Park in a brand new space designed by Renzo Piano, this Biennial does seem to carry an added weight and importance. The idea ties all the 103 artists and curators together is a sense of immediacy and history.
To have an exhibit of this scope, size, and renown be a collaborative effort of multiple curators is expected by now. What is unexpected is how the Whitney chose to do so this time: Michelle Grabner, Anthony Elms, and Stuart Comer have each been given a floor of their own to design and curate. The result is a department store of an exhibition; the viewer travels from floor to floor seeing entirely different aesthetics and designs. The best way to approach the curatorial trifecta is to take the stairs—up, then down—and allow the exhibition to flow.
It's not impossible to go over each work in detail, but there are certainly highlights that should not be missed.
Photo credits: John Hutt
Modelo Prison as well as gel prints of nude young men and philosophy text. Oh, it's also partly a video of jellyfish.
"Stanley Park" is the artist's musings on the all-seeing eye of the state, and it juxtaposes Big Brother with intimate, taboo images.
For those confused by the inclusion of jellyfish, Indiana has helpfully included explanations as to what the hell a jellyfish has to do with anything. (It should be noted, if you need to explain it, it's not really obvious). He is missing the fact that, unlike the oppressive police state, they are delicious.
Steve Reinke and Jessie Mott concluded that Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra would eventually be made into a children's book ("not his other works, obviously, just Zarathustra") and "Rib Gets in the Way" is a film that shows just that.
In Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst's photography series, Relationship, the trans couple document their relationship, which they began around the same time they began their transition. They have an incredible relationship and it made everyone jealous.
It's not all hypersexual and uncomfortable, Melgaard includes plush couches and relatively benign imagery. Except, is that a vagina monster in the lower right?
It is an interactive piece and viewers can sit on the couch shaped like lips and play with cute pillows. Yet, at the exit is Melgaard's giant purple dick (we decided we couldn't show this on the site, so you'll have to believe us). It's a disturbing image to carry while viewing the rest of the gallery.
The Whitney Biennial continues through May 25.