biennial time


This year’s Whitney Biennial, the most poetic I can remember, feels mildly unhappy and restlessly alert. If it were a sound, it would be the muttering of a cast awaiting the inexplicably delayed rise of a curtain. The show confirms impressions of a new, gray mood among younger artists, one at odds with the recent prevalence in international art of both commercial glitz and festivalist brass. Call it a decline in producer confidence. Who is making art? For whom? Why? As usual at the Biennial, few good answers are in evidence. But, for once, bad answers prove almost as elusive. The show is conventionally anti-conventional, like most of the world’s biennials, in its emphasis on installations and videos and its paucity of painting in particular and of traditional mediums in general. Its strongest suit is certain types of sculpture that have flourished lately—the same assembled, shaggy varieties that dominate “Unmonumental,” the inaugural, solid show of the New Museum, downtown. Yet this Biennial is remarkably free of forced ideas, despite an occasional appeal to ecological virtue. It is full of busy ingenuities that smack of art school—but of art-school studios, not seminars. Two decades of academic postmodernizing have trailed off into embarrassed silence.

more from The New Yorker here.