The Whitney Museum of American Art has announced that 75 artists have been selected to present their work in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, co-organized by two Whitney curators, Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley. This will be the 79th in the long-running series of exhibitions launched by the Museum’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in 1932. The 2019 edition will run from May 17 through September 22.
The artists selected for the 2019 Whitney Biennial, ranging from emerging to well-established individuals and collectives, are working in painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound. Work will be presented throughout the fifth and sixth floor exhibition galleries, as well as in numerous spaces both inside and outside the museum. The curators traveled throughout the country and made more than 300 studio visits over the past year. A small number of the artists in the exhibition are Canadian, several are based in Puerto Rico, and a number were born abroad or now live and work outside the United States.
A broad range of performance projects and artists will be presented, with some artists directly engaged with dance (and the history of the medium), and others working in the space of social engagement and critique. Eight artists (including one collective) will be working in the galleries, in the theater, outdoors, and in various interstitial spaces throughout the museum.
Among the artists in the performance program are Morgan Bassichis, who combines stand-up comedy, music, and mysticism into stories of queer alienation, love, and liberation; Brendan Fernandes, whose sculptural installation in the galleries will be activated by ballet dancers; Madeline Hollander, whose choreographic work questions the boundaries between our bodies and the environments we inhabit; Sahra Motalebi, who will present a new iteration of her opera Directory of Portrayals in the theater; and Las Nietas de Nonó, comprised of two sisters, Lydela and Michel Nonó, whose joint practice encompasses performance, theater, dance, and visual art, combined with activism and education, in work that focuses on their home neighborhood, Barrio San Antón in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
Additionally, Greta Hartenstein (formerly a senior curatorial assistant at the Whitney, now an independent curator focused on performance) will co-curate the performance program of the 2019 Whitney Biennial, bringing in work by Autumn Knight, nibia pastrana santiago, and Mariana Valencia, each of whom will engage with the interstitial spaces of the Whitney. Knight will re-present a long-standing and ongoing performance Sanity TV, here reconsidered for specific locations and contexts within the Museum. santiago will present a new work in the building, combining her extensive background in dance with considerations around the Museum’s site downtown adjacent to the Hudson River. Valencia will also present a new work, expanding her interest in combining research with durational choreography and dance.
Three guest curators were invited to select the 11 artists for the film program: Maori Karmael Holmes (BlackStar Film Festival founder), artist and filmmaker Sky Hopinka (whose work was shown in the 2017 Biennial), and filmmaker/documentarian Matt Wolf (Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell and Teenage). Maori Karmael Holmes’s program includes work by the British-born Jenn Nkiru, whose works map global Black music, fashion, and visual culture; Darius Clark Monroe, part of the team behind the HBO series Random Acts of Flyness; and the Ghana-born musician and filmmaker Blitz Bazawule, also known as Blitz the Ambassador.
Sky Hopinka selected Thirza Cuthand, who combines pop genres like sci-fi, horror, and fairy tales into highly personal, confessional works; Colectivo Los Ingràvidos, a Mexican collective, whose moving-image works confront violence and corruption in contemporary Mexico; James Luna (d. 2018), whose work over a 30-year career interrogated America’s iconography of Indigenous experience through a wide array of practices, including multimedia installation, video, and performance; Caroline Monnet, whose moving-image works and mixed-media installations engage with the contradictions of Indigenous life and identity in Canada; and collaborators Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, and Jackson Polys, whose video work challenges assumptions about Native American culture, notably through the story of a nine-thousand-year-old skeleton found in Washington state in 1996.
Matt Wolf will present work by Barbara Hammer, the prolific lesbian filmmaker whose films explore the bodies, relationships, and narratives of queer women in particular who have been absent from both cinema and history; Sam Green, whose documentaries fearlessly probe complex ideas and fraught historical events; and FIERCE/Paper Tiger Television, two groups who banded together to examine the conflict over the Christopher Street Pier, gentrification, and the erasure of queer histories and spaces.
Making use of an augmented reality component, Lucas Blalock will create a mural-sized photographic work to be exhibited on the façade of 95 Horatio Street, located opposite the museum and across from the southern entrance to the High Line, on the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets. Jeffrey Gibson will create a work for the Lobby using fabric and text, to be installed above the admissions desk; Diane Simpson will have a solo presentation with multiple sculptures in the Lobby Gallery; Marcus Fischer’s sound installation will be heard in the stairwell; the fifth floor terrace will be the site of a new sculptural installation with embedded videos by Meriem Bennani; and there will be a new large-scale, multi-part sculpture by Nicole Eisenman, a tableau of monumental figures, installed on the museum’s sixth floor terrace.
For more information, see whitney.org.