…It is the problematizing of expectations and formalisms through destruction and transformations that is the heart of the continuing project…. (Todd Alden on Mika Tajima/New Humans)
…invents puzzles out of non sequiturs to seek congruence in seemingly incongruous situations, whether visual or spatial…inhabits those interstitial spaces between understanding and confusion… (Trinie Dalton on Amanda Ross-Ho)
…features dozens of strips of junk mail spliced together and “stacked” in two zigzagging towers as if piled atop a desk: it is a conflation of art space and work space whose subtle allusion to the increasing corporatism of the art world is tempered by its intricate polychromatic delicacy…. (Lisa Turvey on Frances Stark)
…creates space for the articulation of intention….(Suzanne Hudson on MK Guth)
…. This early work’s active impediment of a unified spectatorial vantage point has led the artist to investigate, in his words, “a variegated relationship between painting—a practice whose ossified discursive and speculative value I want to mark with its various economic and technical support systems—and the contradictions of discursive engagements that subsist largely outside the site of display, but which are value-producing sites nonetheless.”…. (Suzanne Hudson on Cheney Thompson)
…acknowledges the elusiveness of her practice in a conversation … “There is this great movie title for a film with Leonardo DiCaprio called Catch Me If You Can…about a con artist who always manages to escape. All artists are sort of like con artists.” (Suzanne Hudson on Fia Backstrom)
The Whitney Biennial is inconsequential except in how it isolates, as Jerry Saltz put it, “the current art school moment” (he would know, having visited more art schools than just about anybody)—and therefore the ways in which such schools are failing would-be artists. The very homogeneity of the show is a tip-off. Instead of aiding students in finding their singular voices and helping them to develop the methods that best put them across (here I’m not referring necessarily to traditional art techniques--although they are part of the mix--but whatever vehicle allows an artist to reach his or her fullest expression) schools rarely teach skills outside of the mouthing of terms and art references. Hence the emphasis on what Saltz termed “Home Depot displays.” Not that great art can’t be inspired by the local hardware store—Dan Flavin did a pretty good job of it—but in this case, easily available, cheap materials attached to lofty ideas are taking the place of mastery. I read once that more people graduate from art school each year than made up the entire population of Florence during the Renaissance. When schools stay in business by convincing everyone that by investing a couple of years and many thousands of dollars they can become an artist, there’s no room for true critical evaluation.
The most succinct summing up so far comes from an Associated Press review with no byline in the Baltimore Sun, which also notes the “unmistakable art school feel”:
New art, even the most seemingly inscrutable, has the job of engaging with the culture around it, moving and affecting it in some way. Showcasing work that rehashes common themes and styles seems an odd path for a biennial to take. When the mundane fancies itself novel, it becomes nothing more than slightly irritating.