THE MAX FACTOR.WHITNEY BIENNIAL The Whitney Biennial is a biennial exhibition of recent American art, typically by young and lesser known artists, on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, USA. The event began as an annual exhibition in 1918. 2000
KATY SIEGEL: How do you think this Biennial will come to be regarded in relation to others?
MICHAEL AUPING: It will arguably be the first in a series of international Biennials, because of the way we migrate today: An artist could be born in Beijing and end up working in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of . It forces the issue of what we mean when we say "American." There are also far fewer artists recognized by galleries.
KS: I think some gallery people are a little ticked off about that.
MA: I've gotten two responses. One is that they're a little ticked off that some of their more stellar artists aren't in. The other is that we've done a lot of legwork leg·work
Work, such as collecting information or doing research in preparation for a project, that involves much walking or traveling about. , and a number of these artists will have galleries before the opening dinner.
MA: The Whitney didn't provide us with a template. When we threw together our lists of fifty artists at the first meeting and there wasn't a single overlap, I was ready to get on the plane and go home--what were we going to do, mud-wrestle? So each curator was allowed to vote 3, 2 or I on each artist, which was very helpful in terms of the upper and lower edges of the list. If an artist got an 18, it was unanimous. If an artist got 6, it was also unanimous. The problem, of course, occurred in the middle. Where do you make the cutoff? It got a little strange when we began to see that possibly one of our favorite artists might not make the cut. Eventually we said, those of us who have passions can make a presentation, and then we'd vote again. To be effective in these situations, you have to be able to verbalize why a particular artist is important. There were lots of arguments along the way.
KS: What were the biggest contentions within the group as a whole?
KS: Who received your "passion votes"?
MA: There were no passion votes per se, but I was very passionate about Richard Tuttle--there's such a buzz about Tuttle among younger artists, I thought it was important that he be in this Biennial, not the next one.
KS: Which of your favorites didn't make the cut?
MA: Richard Serra--I think you can argue that his Torqued Ellipses Ellipses is the plural form of either of two words in the English language:
Early life and work , who completely polarizes the art world. When I argued for him in a meeting, one of my colleagues said, "I hate Jeff Koons," and I said, "That's the reason to have him in the Biennial."
KS: Who were the lesser-known artists you championed?
MA: One was James Drake James George Drake (26 April 1850–1 August 1941), Australian politician, was a member of the first federal ministry.
Drake was born in London, and migrated to Australia in 1873, working as a storekeeper and journalist in Queensland, becoming a barrister in 1882. , whose work serves as a good metaphor for the entire Biennial in the sense that it revolves around borders. I was also very much in favor of Leandro Erlich. I don't want to sound like the Texas Chamber of Commerce, but I think he's one of the bright young artists in the show.
KS: Is anything being produced especially for the show?
MA: This is the largest budget for a Biennial ever, but we could have spent it all very quickly if we'd decided to produce work. We did give a budget to artists who wanted to make things for the show, and tried to keep it even across the board so a Hans Haacke Hans Haacke (born 1936 in Cologne, Germany) is a conceptual artist.
Haacke studied at the Staatliche Werkakademie in Kassel, Germany, from 1956 to 1960. From 1961 to 1962 on a Fulbright grant at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. got the same amount as a Leandro Erlich.
KS: What would you describe as your biggest curatorial accomplishment prior to the Biennial?
MA: For me, doing exhibitions is the lifeblood of this job, and one tends to be most engrossed en·gross
tr.v. en·grossed, en·gross·ing, en·gross·es
1. To occupy exclusively; absorb: A great novel engrosses the reader. See Synonyms at monopolize.
2. with the "next big project." Right now, I'm consumed with a Philip Guston Philip Guston (July 27, 1913 – June 7, 1980) was a notable painter and printmaker in the New York School, which included many of the Abstract Expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. retrospective, the largest one to date. Like most people of my generation, I'm a child of Abstract Expressionism abstract expressionism, movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school. , and Guston's role during that movement's heyday and in finally getting us out of it and reclaiming imagistic painting for late-twentieth-century art has not been fully explored. Not long after I came to the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, I was able to do an exhibition of Arshile Gorky's breakthrough paintings of the '40s, and partly out of luck and timing, in the mid-'80s I had the opportunity to do the largest group exhibition of Abstract Expressionism in decades.
KS: Are there curators you would have liked to see on the "team," people you particularly admire?
MA: Neal Benezra, Suzanne Ghez, or Paul Schimmel Schimmel is a German surname and may refer to:
• • or Nancy Spector. I think it would also be interesting to have one or two people who are less obvious. I'd love to be on a committee like this with Susan Sontag Noun 1. Susan Sontag - United States writer (born in 1933)
Sontag . Aaron Betsky, the architecture and design curator at SF MOMA Moma (mō`mä), town, E central Mozambique. It is important mainly as a harbor for the export of tropical produce. , would also make an interesting addition. And if the Biennial is going to continue to be more "international," it would make sense to let a non-American rummage around studios in the US. Based on the fact that our committee is a kind of experiment, it will be interesting to see what the Whitney does for the next Biennial in terms of retreating or reaching even further.
JULIE CANIGLIA: How will this Biennial be regarded in comparison to others?
JANE FARVER: I think it will be seen as more international-this is reflective of where America is going and who really lives here-and also possibly less predictable. For instance, artists like Cai Guo-Qiang Cai Guo-Qiang (born in 1957, Quanzhou City, Province) is a Chinese contemporary artist and curator.
Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China. He was trained in stage design at the Shanghai Drama Institute from 1981 to 1985. , Yukinori Yanagi, and Luis Camnitzer Luis Camnitzer is an Uruguayan artist and Professor Emeritus at University of the State of New York. He lives in New York.
Camnitzer was born in Germany in 1937, but grew up in Uruguay. have all lived here for years, yet they are more often labeled as representing China, Japan, or Uruguay than the US. I'm excited about their works being seen in the context of the Whitney Museum of American Art Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City, founded in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was an outgrowth of the Whitney Studio (1914–18), the Whitney Studio Club (1918–28), and the Whitney Studio Galleries (1928–30). , and I'm also excited about the inclusion of artists like Michael Joo, Paul Pfeiffer
Paul Pfeiffer (born Honolulu, Hawaii, 1966) is an American video artist whose work incorporates the use of found footage. , and Rina Baneijee, whose work may be informed by their Asian or South Asian heritage but who've grown up here.
JC: Was there any kind of mandate to look outside the group of artists considered part of the fashionable gallery circuit?
JF: I never felt that there was a deliberate attempt to avoid artists represented by major galleries. I didn't really care either way--nor do I think that would be an appropriate yardstick. I've lived and worked in New York for so long, and believe that galleries are an essential part of the art world, so maybe I don't share the sort of outsider take on that. However, it was good to learn about artists who are working outside the gallery scene whose work I hadn't known before.
JC: Do you see the Web making serious inroads inroads
make inroads into to start affecting or reducing: my gambling has made great inroads into my savings
inroads npl to make inroads into [+ in established art practices?
JF: That's something I'll be thinking about for some time to come, particularly since I'm now at the List Visual Arts visual arts npl → artes fpl plásticas
visual arts npl → arts mpl plastiques
visual arts npl → Center at MIT MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology . After all, the Net has been accessible to artists for nearly a decade, and our job as curators is to find a way to make Web art accessible to the general public and to apply new ways of presenting it. I give most of the credit to Larry Rinder for bringing Net art to the table, and also to Max Anderson Max Arthur Anderson (born June 6, 1945 in Stockton, California) was an American football running back and kick returner in the American Football League for the Buffalo Bills from 1968 through 1969. He played college football at Arizona State University. for supporting the idea. The press has made it seem that the inclusion of Net art this year is some sort of legitimization of "new media," but I don't concur. It just seemed appropriate to consider this work in relation to other kinds of art produced in the last two years. Actually, Net artists make up a fairly high percentage of the total number of artists included, but since most of the space they occupy is virtual, it seemed reasonable to include so large a proportion.
JC: What surprised you most about this collaborative process-pleasantly or otherwise?
JF: How respectful it was. Not that there wasn't dissension, or that people wouldn't want to continue arguing for or against certain inclusions. The process was similar to jury duty in that people put things aside and did their best to come to good decisions-not just their own decision.
JC: What was most contentious for you as an individual within that group?
JF: Not being able to convince others that certain artists needed to be included. Rationally, you understood that you should be looking at this as one whole exhibition, but individually you were there really to argue for certain artists.
JC: Was there anything that was easy?
JF: Even though there was little crossover on our first lists of artists, at our second meeting the core- the first thirty or so artists-came together pretty easily. Still, I've often found that when curators are working together, after they all present images and materials, it's difficult for them not to want to begin to work with each other's artists and information.
JC: Were you surprised by that lack of overlap in the lists from the six curators?
JF: I was amazed. I thought there would be some of the same names on everybody's lists, but this points to just how many art worlds there are--and how little crossover there is between them. However, in spite of the fact that our first lists were very different, each one contained the names of artists who needed to be included, and they were.
JC: How did you come to curating?
JF: I came to curating through the alternative-space movement in the late '70s and early '80s, when much of my early work was devoted to providing opportunities for artists. I've also worked in university art galleries, and for the past seven years, until July '99, I was director of exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art The Queens Museum of Art is a major art museum in the Queens borough of New York City, USA.
The museum occupies a structure originally built for the 1939 New York World's Fair, held in Flushing Meadows Park, a park designed and built primarily to host the fair, under the in New York. Queens has the benefit of being part of the city but just far enough from Manhattan to allow for some risks and experimentation. The exhibition "Global Conceptualism conceptualism, in philosophy, position taken on the problem of universals, initially by Peter Abelard in the 12th cent. Like nominalism it denied that universals exist independently of the mind, but it held that universals have an existence in the mind as concept. : Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s," which I organized together with Rachel Weiss, Luis Camnitzer, and a team of eleven curators from around the world, was an example of this. As for a curator I particularly admire, it would have to be John Coplans John Coplans (1920-2003) was a British artist. A veteran of World War II and photographer, he emigrated to the United States in 1960 and had many exhibitions in Europe and North America. . I first met John when he was director of the Akron Art Museum Akron Art Museum is an art museum in Akron, Ohio, USA.
The museum started in the basement of the public library in 1922. A 65,000 square foot new building has been designed by the architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, located next to the existing museum, a former post office . His approach to art and audiences and life changed my thinking, and it is particularly satisfying to me that his new photographic work, which is some of the strongest he has ever made, is included in this Biennial.
HUGH DAVIES Hugh Seymour Davies (April 23, 1943 – January 1, 2005) was a musicologist, composer, and inventor of musical instruments.
Davies was born in Exmouth, Devon, England. After attending Westminster School, he studied music at Worcester College, Oxford from 1961 to 1964.
KATY SIEGEL: How do you think this Biennial will come to be regarded in relation to others?
HUGH DAVIES: The net was cast nationally in a way it has not been before. When you're in New York and everyone's just been to the same opening, there's a
kind of introverted in·tro·vert·ed
Marked by interest in or preoccupation with oneself or one's own thoughts as opposed to others or the environment. closed-mindedness. People who live somewhere else bring breadth.
KS: Who were some of the lesser-known artists you championed?
HD: Roman de Salvo and Marcos Ramirez Erre, two San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. artists my fellow curators knew little about; and Josiah McElheny Josiah G. McElheny (born in 1966 in Boston) is a contemporary artist and sculptor, primarily known for his work with glass blowing and assemblages of glass and mirrored glassed objects (see glass art). He is a 2006 recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program "genius grant". from Seattle. I'd seen his work in a small gallery in New York, and then at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. Larry Rinder had seen that show too, and there was sort of a groundswell ground·swell
1. A sudden gathering of force, as of public opinion: a groundswell of antiwar sentiment.
2. that, yeah, this guy has been seen in New York but not nearly enough.
KS: Did the experience make you a fan of any artists you didn't know before?
HD: Linda Besemer--it's funny to come to New York and discover an artist from LA. Also, Carl and Karen Pope, and Chris Verene Chris Verene (b. 1969 Galesburg, Illinois) is a notable American fine arts and documentary photographer and performance artist. Biography
Verene was born in 1969 in Galesburg, Illinois, a town of 33,000 people in central western Illinois. . Dara Friedman will present a video installation that I wish I had brought to the table.
KS: Are there people you think got left out?
HD: I think it's a weakness that there aren't more LA artists. Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari John Baldessari, (b. June 17 1931, National City, California) is a conceptual artist.
His work often attempts to point out irony in contemporary art theory and practices or reduce it to absurdity. His art has been featured in more than 120 solo exhibitions in the U.S. are doing incredible work now, and a lot of young artists look to Ken Price as well. There was a sense that the middle generation--Kelley, Pettibon, Ray, Burden--had received a lot of exposure. I went along with that reluctantly. The idea was to find the next generation of Angelenos and that never really happened, so I feel let down. And it wasn't for lack of trying, because we looked at a lot of work.
KS: What were the team's weaknesses?
HD: Well, that there were no LA curators. And we were too old. The good part was that we had all paid our dues, so we came to the table with credibility. If Jane Farver has seen the work of Chakaia Booker and she's excited about it, then she's an effective advocate. We're old enough that we're not trying to get someplace some·place
adv. & n.
Somewhere: "I didn't care where I was from so long as it was someplace else" Garrison Keillor. See Usage Note at everyplace. else, we're not trying to impress anyone. I like the Whitney a lot and working with Max Anderson is a dream for a contemporary-art person because it's not his field, so he's not about to get in there and lobby for Jim Dine Jim Dine (born June 16, 1935) is an American pop artist. He is sometimes considered to be a part of the Neo-Dada movement. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, attended the University of Cincinnati and received a BFA from Ohio University in 1957. .
KS: I think at the beginning there was a certain amount of doom and gloom doom and gloom
Gloom and doom.
doom-and-gloom adj. about how this process could actually work.
HD: Yeah, I think there was a certain amount of "Hugh and Michael are guys and they'll dominate the process." Or, "The East Coast people will take over."
KS: If you got to do it all by yourself, how would you characterize your hypothetical solo Biennial?
HD: I think I probably would have had more installation work. But in general I'm really fed up with these heroic single-curator international biennials. I think they're about the curator and the artists become visual footnotes to some incredibly boring lecture.
KS: Did you feel that way about Venice?
HD: Yes. And Catherine David's Documenta was screaming to have one good painting or one decent site-specific installation or sculpture. With this Biennial there are six anonymous culture workers who are all contributing, and it's not about the curators.
KS: How did you come to curating?
HD: As an undergraduate I took a class with George Segal Noun 1. George Segal - United States sculptor (born in 1924)
Segal , which just knocked my socks off. Through that experience, I got into art-history classes with Sam Hunter and others at Princeton, and discovered New York and SoHo.
KS: What is your own sense of your most significant curatorial accomplishment preceding the Biennial?
HD: We've built a collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, that's very strong in installation work. I did a lot with artists like Vito Acconci Vito Hannibal Acconci (born January 24, 1940) is a Bronx, New York-born, Brooklyn-based architect, landscape architect, and installation artist.
His father was an Italian immigrant who took him to museums and opera houses and gave him his first arts education. , Bob Irwin Bob Irwin (born c. 1939/1940 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), is an Australian naturalist, animal conservationist, and a pioneering herpetologist who is also famous for his conservation and husbandry work with apex predators and other reptiles. , and George Trakas. We were the first museum to acquire an installation by Ann Hamilton Ann Hamilton (born June 22, 1956, Lima, Ohio) is a contemporary American artist best known for her installations, textile art, and sculptures, but is also known to work with video and video installation. , and the first with a Chris Burden Chris Burden (born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1946) is an American artist.
He studied visual arts, physics and architecture at Yale College and the University of California, Irvine from 1969 to 1971. . We did an exhibition a few years ago of installation art that's traveling now called "Blurring the Boundaries," and that may be my institution's strongest contribution to the field.
KS: Is there another curator whom you especially admire?
HD: Of those in the Biennial, Jane Farver is the one I learned the most from. As far as others working in this country go, Paul Schimmel of MOCA MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art
MOCA Multimedia over Coax
MoCA Museum of Chinese in the Americas
MOCA Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance
MOCA Montezuma Castle National Monument (US National Park Service) . "Helter Skelter
when the concept transcends the individuals, but whenever Schimmel curates he retains a sense of the artists, and respects them.
CARLOS BASUALDO: In putting together the Biennial, did you have any opportunity to accommodate art beyond the museum walls?
ANDREA MILLER-KELLER: The kinds of explorations that move beyond the bounds of the museum take considerable time to nurture and develop. The absence of such public work is for me probably the greatest weakness of this Biennial. When the six of us gathered for the first time in April (and learned that the catalogue deadline would be October), we talked about choosing a theme but felt that there were hazards in making too rushed or casual a choice. We decided it would be smarter to put our efforts into showing good work by strong artists. Remember, we all had our "day jobs." We also agreed that if we couldn't get the strongest work available, then we would not show a given artist.
CB: It looks to me like there were other things going on--inviting non-US citizens, including a number of younger artists.
AMK AMK Ammattikorkeakoulu
AMK Ang Mo Kio
AMK Angkor Mikroheranhvatho Kampuchea (Cambodia microfinance)
AMK Angkatan Muda Keadilan (Malaysia) : At the beginning, we talked about what kind of balance would be wise. We thought we'd aim for a show that had--these were our starting figures--maybe forty percent younger artists, forty percent midcareer, and twenty percent older. We never went back and checked to see how we did with those numbers--it wasn't about rigid categories or quotas at all--but that was what we thought the Biennial should present to the public.
CB: Are you satisfied with the structure of the show?
AMK: No, not entirely. I think it is appropriate and accomplished given the circumstances, but it would be much better to have a curator of contemporary art at the Whitney who takes the lead on the Biennial. Personally, I had to make a difficult decision about whether or not to participate. The five curators who had left the Whitney were all people I admired and there were other curators who were invited to participate and said no.
CB: What was your main reason for taking part in it?
AMK: A lot of people see the Biennial, so I hoped I would have a chance to speak on behalf of some artists who maybe have not been in past shows. Of those selected, only thirteen have been in previous Biennials.
CB: Could you tell me about some of the people in the show you feel most strongly about?
AMK: First, I'd rather tell you about some who I wish were in the show but are not. For example, there's Michael Singer, who made his reputation as a sculptor and is now leading architectural teams involved in major recycling projects. I think that's something that needs to be acknowledged--an artistic vision that has both aesthetic and political implications. There are others I would have included: With her large-scale Polaroids, Ellen Carey is working at ground zero in the field of photography. Beth B's portraits of women are art-historically important as well as beautiful. Then there's someone like Betty Woodman Betty Woodman (b. 1930) is an American ceramic artist. A retrospective of her work was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from April 25 – July 30, 2006. The exhibit covered her over fifty-year career working with clay and her focus on the vase form. , who started out in ceramics and craft and has come to a completely different place as she turns seventy. I wish we could have introduced the general public to the work of filmmakers Diane Nerwen and Lucia Davis. On the upside, I'm delighted that the Biennial includes T. Kim-Trang Tran, Mandy Morrison, Sadie Benning Sadie Benning is a video maker, visual artist, and musician.
She first made her name in the early 1990s as a teenage video maker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her earliest works, made from the time she was 15, were shot with the Fisher-Price Pixelvision camera, which recorded , Jennifer Reeder, Sharon Lockhart, Carl Pope Carl Pope is the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, an American environmental organization founded by conservationist pioneer John Muir in 1892. Pope was appointed to his position as Executive Director in 1992, the club's centennial. , Krzysztof Wodiczko Krzysztof Wodiczko is an artist currently living in Boston and teaching at MIT. The son of Polish conductor Bohdan Wodiczko , he was born in 1943 in Warsaw, and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw in 1968 with a degree in industrial design, and , Inigo Manglano-Ov alle, Louise Lawler Louise Lawler (born 1947, Bronxville, New York) is a U.S. artist and photographer. From the late 1970s onwards, Lawler's work has focused on the presentation and marketing of artwork. , Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Arthur Jafa, Bill DeLottie, [(r).sup.TM]ark and many, many others.
CB: In what way was the show important for your own practice in terms of how you think about your own work?
AMK: I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. that it was important for me, although it was a positive experience. It's almost the total opposite of my twenty-four years of running MATRIX [at the Atheneum ath·e·nae·um also ath·e·ne·um
1. An institution, such as a literary club or scientific academy, for the promotion of learning.
2. A place, such as a library, where printed materials are available for reading. ], which was small, low-key, low-profile, and independent. With MATRIX, each artist and I worked together in some depth, often challenging institutional boundaries, for instance, Julie Ault's 1997 "Power Up: Sister Mary Corita and Donald Moffet," or, in my last official show for MATRIX, the historical reclamation of Mierle Ukeles's 1973 "Maintenance Art" pieces inside the very museum that had totally forgotten about them.
CB: Was the avoidance of the bigger-name galleries a comment about the art world?
AMK: Well, probably for some of us. Certainly undue influence from such sources is always on my mind. But I can't speak for the other curators because that tendency wasn't by design.
CB: Were there any pressures?
AMK: There were none--except for time and money! In the past I gather that it was common to turn to galleries for substantial support when their artists were selected. That would augment the budget in a substantial way, and it's probably standard practice in many shows. I think in this respect this year's Biennial is certainly an exception.
LAWRENCE RINDER Lawrence R. Rinder is the Dean of the College at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Previously, he was the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator of Contemporary Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art where he organized exhibitions including “The
JULIE CANIGLIA: How do you think the 2000 Biennial will come to be regarded in relation to others?
LAWRENCE RINDER: It's more eclectic in form and spirit. We agreed from the start not to have a theme, for example--but I'm interested in seeing whether one emerges from the mix.
JC: What would your ideal Biennial look like?
LR: Well, I like this Biennial! It might even look like this one.
JC: Who were the lesser-known artists you championed?
LR: This selection was generally made not by artist but by artwork. We tried to bring to the table specific works, and the artists sank or swam on that basis. If anything is going to make this a rich and exciting Biennial, it's that. We had the freedom to propose works by artists who might be completely unknown, and it also meant that we might pass by some who might seem obvious.
JC: Did you come to the table knowing that a work was available for the show?
LR: In some cases, we knew a work was available. Sometimes, after there was consensus about a piece, one of us would have to go out and try to secure it. Of course, in a show like this, there's always a dynamic, organic process, and there were instances when an artist would complete a major new work after a previous one had been approved. In such a case, we'd likely defer to our colleague's opinions and allow a substitution.
JC: Did you deliberately avoid artists considered part of the "trendy gallery" set?
LR: No, that was a nonissue non·is·sue
A matter of so little import that it ought not to become a focus of controversy and comment: She felt that the matter of her attire should have been a nonissue. , because what we were looking at was, again, specific works of art.
JC: What was the biggest surprise about the process?
LR: Given how little consensus there was at the beginning, that we got the exhibition done at all is testimony to the fact that we had a system that worked.
JC: So you were surprised by the lack of overlap in the first lists that you and the others submitted?
LR: "Shocked" would be a more appropriate word. Of course, the six curators are people with very different aesthetic sensibilities, so learning about each other's passions was not just about a neutral engagement, it was really a matter of accepting that there are widely divergent points of view and seeing the value in what wouldn't normally cross our radar screen. That's where this Biennial will succeed or fail: The diversity and clash of sensibilities will either be illuminating and exciting, or just discordant.
JC: Was there any aspect of the process that was particularly contentious for you?
LR: Of course, we had our tense moments, especially toward the end. There were many works that I believed in and fought for that didn't make it. But when you see the writing on the wall, finally you have to let go. With such an overwhelming amount of work to do, if you carry a grudge about one piece, you're doomed. You had to be looking toward the larger goal.
JC: What was the biggest challenge?
LR: Initially, it was overcoming the negative spin about the Whitney--not letting people's opinions about the Whitney get in the way.
JC: If this is the "least gallery-driven" Biennial in a while, what quality predominates?
LR: I'm waiting to see the exhibition to decide. My gut feeling gut feeling Intuition, visceral sensation about what might be going on is that there's a quality of reflection or contemplation in the work that is more than just some sort of Zen disengagement disengagement /dis·en·gage·ment/ (dis?en-gaj´ment) emergence of the fetus from the vaginal canal.
n. . Even works that are taking on some heavy social or political subjects seem to have an internal, reflective quality. That measured tone may pervade per·vade
tr.v. per·vad·ed, per·vad·ing, per·vades
To be present throughout; permeate. See Synonyms at charge.
[Latin perv this exhibition.
JC: How did you come to curating and what do you consider to be your most significant contributions to the field to date?
LR: I began in museum education and made the switch to curating back in 1987. As the Berkeley Art Museum's MATRIX curator I enjoyed working with emerging as well as more established artists who wanted to try something new. Berkeley offered a lot of creative latitude, and I think they really deserve credit for giving me and Nayland Blake the opportunity to curate CURATE, eccl. law. One who represents the incumbent of a church, person, or20 vicar, and takes care of the church, and performs divine service in his stead. "In a Different Light," our exhibition exploring the resonance of gay and lesbian experience in twentieth-century American culture. In 1997 I left Berkeley to become the founding director of the Institute for Exhibitions and Public Programs at the California College of Arts and Crafts arts and crafts, term for that general field of applied design in which hand fabrication is dominant. The term was coined in England in the late 19th cent. as a label for the then-current movement directed toward the revivifying of the decorative arts. in Oakland and San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden . The Institute is a new model for exhibition practice in an educational context. Our international, contemporary exhibitions and programs in the fields of art, architecture, and design have helped to catalyze CCAC's transformation into one of the most forward-looking art schools in the country.
VALERIE CASSEL Cas·sel
CARLOS BASUALDO: Are you satisfied with the way the Biennial turned out?
VALERIE CASSEL: Yes, there's not much I would change because I think the exhibition is reflective of the aesthetic visions of the individuals engaged in the process. In terms of expanding the exhibition outside the walls of the museum, I think our initial ideas were much larger, but for various reasons that component won't be as visible as we had intended. In general, though, we all came together as individuals. The hand of the individual is present, but the results are very much a group effort.
CB: Where in the show could we see the hand of Valerie Cassel?
VC: I don't want to get into which artists I versus someone else brought to the table. I'm very clear that my voice and my vision are represented. All anyone has to do is to look at the type of programming that I do at the School of the Art Institute and glean from that. My approach to the curatorial frame is heavily informed by the investigation of ideas. My focus as the director of the Visiting Artists Program has been on presenting the voice of the artist--allowing them to speak to issues pertinent to contemporary art practice. The Whitney provided me with an opportunity to translate the presentation of the voice into the presentation of the object--but again that process was deeply rooted in understanding the visual discourse of the object.
CB: Were there artists you were introduced to in the process?
VC: The selection process privileged the introduction of so many artists. It also allowed for the reintroduction of others. Out of those who were selected for the exhibition, new introductions to me were Arthur Jafa, Mark Amerika Mark Amerika is an American artist and author. Career
Amerika received his MFA from Brown University. After publishing two cult-novels, The Kafka Chronicles and Sexual Blood, he turned his energy towards net art. , Rolf Belgum, Chris Verene, and Tara Donovan Tara Donovan (b. 1969) is an installation artist who uses materials such as scotch tape, styrofoam cups, and drinking straws to create large scale sculptures that often have a biomorphic feel. , among others. It was also wonderful to be reintroduced to the work of John Coplans.
CB: There seems to be no concept or underlying theme for the show. You emphasize the issue of process. How would you characterize that in the show?
VC: From the beginning, there was the sense that we wanted a canvas of what's happening throughout the US. Mind you, there are regions that aren't represented, but I think on the whole this Biennial is far more geographically diverse than others. Above all, we gave ourselves a mandate really to look.
CB: By including artists who live in the US but are not citizens, are you making a statement about the role of immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. in American culture?
VC: I think this is a migratory culture very much the way it was at the turn of the twentieth century. We live in a global society now. And this roster of artists is simply representative of that.
CB: How did the institutional setting and the organizational structure This article has no lead section.
To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines, one should be written. of the exhibition--having a group of curators who have never worked together and who come from very different backgrounds put together a show very quickly--affect the more heated questions that may have come up in the process?
VC: Well, there were factors of time and money. That's not something I feel particularly compelled to whine about. We all knew what we were walking into. I think that when all is said and done, this exhibition is successful in terms of what we had envisioned and how that manifested itself. If I had to name one thing I'm disappointed by, it would be the issue of public art, but it wasn't because the curators chose not to move in that direction. Initially, we looked at several public art projects, and decided to move on one particular work that would incorporate architecture, technology, video--and collaborate with entities outside the museum. Ultimately, it was the collaborator and artist group who determined the final outcome--which was not to proceed. I do feel, however, that in terms of expanding the exhibition beyond the walls of the Whitney, you'll get a sense of where we wanted to go. Max Anderson and the museum staff were very open when it came to the curators' collective vision. They made no effort to limit our ideas or the translation of those ideas into action. Max's role was not only facilitator, but institutional liaison. He was the individual at the table who directed the efforts of the staff (development office, etc.) to support our vision.
CB: If you were asked, say, to do a biennial in Chicago, how would it be different from the Whitney Biennial?
VC: It would delve more into particular issues and allow artists to speak to those issues. I'm an art historian, and I tend to engage the public and artists in the realm of interpretation and presentation. I'm sure that this hypothetical project would be centered on particular ideas, whether it involved artists working in a project room or the public being able to access the artists in different ways.
THE OPENING THIS MONTH OF THE 2000 BIENNIAL EXHIBITION--the latest installment of the Whitney's flagship show and the most-talked-about event on the museum's calendar--also marks a closing of sorts: that of the moderately embattled first chapter of Maxwell Anderson's tenure as director. Seventeen months into his term and with his final key appointment in place--Biennial team member Lawrence Rinder was recently named curator of contemporary art (see page 39)--the upcoming exhibition affirms one thing for certain: Any organization with the size and stature of the Whitney Museum of American Art inevitably does as much to shape the person at its helm as the person does to shape the institution.
From the start, Anderson's group-curated effort--he named a six-person curatorial body amid a firestorm of staff defections--played more as necessary expedient than motivated innovation. The exodus was precipitated by early attempts at organizational restructuring--one curator got promoted, a couple more got mad, and the resulting rush for the door left the new director in something of a fix. The tailwind of toxic PR had many Whitney watchers fretting that the museum's Kunsthalle edginess was about to go white shoe.
Of course, the Whitney's not a Kunsthalle--it's a museum; and surely Anderson had the collection in mind when he moved to reassign the institution's loose consortium of curators to period-specific departments with responsibilities in corresponding areas of acquisition, Contrasting himself with predecessor David Ross David Ross refers to:
If Marla Prather, Anderson's appointment to the new position of curator of postwar art, seemed to many solid but "safe," she boasts a pretty starchy starch·y
adj. starch·i·er, starch·i·est
a. Containing starch.
b. Stiffened with starch.
2. Of or resembling starch.
3. pedigree (i.e., the National Gallery in Washington, DC); as Anderson's reported first choice, her coming on board counted as a show of strength. Next up: Lawrence Rinder. The thirty-eight-year-old California-based curator of shows by the likes of Jack Smith and Andrea Fraser Andrea Fraser (sometimes known by her stage name, Jane Castleton) is a New York-based performance artist, mainly known for her work as an institutional critique artist. Fraser was born in 1965 in Billings, Montana, USA. may nevertheless appear a tad too white male to repair the blow those early defections dealt to the institution's justly lauded diversity. Still, the appointment was a far cry from the auto-return to the blue-chip-cozy days of Thomas Armstrong (Ross's predecessor) that many had feared of an Anderson Whitney. And the announcement of the Biennial artists--a roster notable for fresh names and the demonstrative LEGACY, DEMONSTRATIVE. A demonstrative legacy is a bequest of a certain sum of money; intended for the legatee at all events, with a fund particularly referred to for its payment; so that if the estate be not the testator's property at his death, the legacy will not fail: but be payable absence of high-end New York gallery representation--has prompted even some cynics Cynics (sĭn`ĭks) [Gr.,=doglike, probably from their manners and their meeting place, the Cynosarges, an academy for Athenian youths], ancient school of philosophy founded c.440 B.C. by Antisthenes, a disciple of Socrates. to ask whether the dark-age forebodings were exaggerated. Will necessity, as one member of the Anderson quick-fix team suggests, prove the mother of invention?
We called on the six Biennial curators--Michael Auping, Jane Farver, Hugh Davies, Andrea Miller-Keller, Lawrence Rinder, and Valerie Cassel--and judging by the balance of spirited advocacy and informed compromise their comments reveal, the collaboration seems to have been a living, breathing one. By all appearances, Anderson remained, in his own words, "a time keeper." "My role was not to choose the work," he emphasizes; while not every curator was 100 percent thrilled with the outcome, the collective effort may yield a result greater than the sum of its participants.
As for the Whitney as a whole? So far, so not-so-bad; but with the key positions, by Anderson's own reckoning, all sewn up (Prather's mandate covers the broad stretch from '50 to '85; Rinder picks up from there), some are wondering whether the '60s and '70s--arguably the most fertile (but also most challenging) period in American art--will get the short shrift. Where, too, are the high-style scribes and public presence to keep pace with the MOMA lineup? To keep its place next to its august peers as the feistiest of New York's modern venues, the Whitney will need to be more than a well-meaning (and oiled) machine--it needs to make itself a midwife of ideas and debate, not just a packager of crowd-pleasing formulae. That is the challenge ahead as Anderson's tenure enters episode two. Necessity, once again, Is it too soon to call it the Max factor?