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Celeste Dupuy-Spencer

Born 1979 in New York, NY
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

With her raw, cartoonish paintings and drawings, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer offers wry, sensitive commentary on the times in which we live. Although unsentimental in her portrayal of the human condition, she renders her subjects with directness and sympathy. Whether depicting Donald Trump supporters at a political rally, well-heeled partygoers mingling at a swanky art-filled home, or teenagers in an alley in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, each socially charged scene seems to capture some element of shared humanity. In the largest work on view in the Biennial, the oil painting Veterans Day, she looks at figures who—from her antiviolent, antinationalist perspective—engaged in acts of meaningful resistance. These include the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the international volunteers who fought against the forces of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War; Cassius Clay (or Muhammad Ali, as he was later known); and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer (b. 1979), Fall with Me for a Million Days (My Sweet Waterfall), 2016. Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in. (152.4 x 121.9 cm). Private collection; courtesy the artist and Mier Gallery, Los Angeles

Tommy Hartung

Born 1979 in Akron, OH
Lives in Queens, NY

In The Lesser Key of Solomon, Tommy Hartung creates a hallucinatory montage reflecting themes of racial inequality, power struggles, systemic violence, and religious fervor. The video, its title taken from a seventeenth-century demonological spell book, combines appropriated footage from the internet with stop-motion animations Hartung crafted in his studio using his own elaborate sculptures and sets. The film opens with a YouTube clip of a man addressing his webcam, describing the dangers of dark magic and meditating on human suffering. In the film’s second half, stop-action animations of flickering, colorful projections and otherworldly landscapes that reference occult imagery unfold against a soundtrack of a sermon by Nation of Islam member Leo Muhammad, in which he denounces the vast income gap between rich and poor, as well as pervasive racism worldwide.

Tommy Hartung (b. 1979), still from The Lesser Key of Solomon, 2015. Ultra-high-definition video, color, sound; 8:05 min. Collection of the artist; courtesy On Stellar Rays, New York

Puppies Puppies

Born 1989 in Dallas, TX
Lives in Roswell, NM

In the series Triggers, the artist known as Puppies Puppies focuses our attention on the mechanism that initiates the firing sequence of a gun. The works comment on the prevalence of gun violence both in the United States and in the media; each is the last remaining piece of a gun that has been destroyed at the request of the artist. The triggers also call to mind the notion of a “trigger warning”—a notice often given at the beginning of an artwork or performance to alert viewers to content that may prove inflammatory or disturbing to individuals who have had traumatic experiences.

is a performance realized at different times by Puppies Puppies, a performer of their choosing, or even a mannequin. The work references street performers, including the peddlers in costume who sell photo opportunities to tourists in New York. For the Biennial, Puppies Puppies has staged a re-presentation of these performances, which are often done by men dressed as the Statue of Liberty; the result can be seen as a sculpture or as a drag performance—or both.

Puppies Puppies (b. 1989), Liberty (Liberté), 2017. Performance, March 13, 2017.  2017 Whitney Biennial (March 17-June 11, 2017). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y.   Courtesy of the artist and Balice Hertling, Paris. Photograph by Matt Carasella

Jessi Reaves

Born 1986 in Portland, OR
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

With her material arsenal of found objects, industrial products, fabrics, and foam, Jessi Reaves assembles objects that challenge the boundary between furniture and sculpture. Although designed for use, her works summon a lyrical—rather than functional—association with the body

During the Biennial, Reaves’s works are on view throughout the Museum, including its conference rooms. For Herman’s Dress, the artist sheathed an Eames Herman Miller sofa in a translucent pink silk slipcover. Her decidedly feminine embellishment gives an erotic charge to this once-radical, now safely stylish modernist statement. In another provocative alteration, Reaves zipped blue waterproof vinyl around a freestanding, wooden shelf, straitjacketing the object from its utilitarian function yet imbuing the shape with a mysterious force.

On several occasions the artist has used studio sawdust mixed with glue, but instead of employing this “woodworker’s trick” to repair imperfections, she applies it as structural material and decorative flourish. Rejecting the sleek craftsmanship of “iconic” midcentury design, Reaves exaggerates markers of construction to an almost aggressive abundance.

Jessi Reaves (b. 1986), Basket Chair with Brown Pillow, 2017. Wood, metal, sawdust, wood glue, wicker basket, caning, cotton batting, polyester, and hardware, 36 x 22 x 30 in. (91.4 x 55.9 x 76.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Bridget Donahue, New York. Photograph by Ben Ganscos

Jo Baer

Born 1929 in Seattle, WA
Lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands 

In her more than sixty years as a painter, Jo Baer has engaged with many different styles and movements without declaring allegiance to any of them. Her series In the Land of the Giants, begun in 2009, developed from her research into the Hurlstone, a prehistoric megalith in County Louth, Ireland. Baer sourced some of her imagery—which includes giants, human figures, animals, classical statuary, and landscapes—on the internet and then developed the works’ palette and compositions with digital software and colored pencil. By combining remnants of ancient cultures with fragments of the contemporary world, Baer unites her subjects within her own sense of “deep time” in which fantasy and reality blur while the past and present intermingle.

Jo Baer (b.1929), Dusk (Bands and End-Points), 2012. Oil on canvas, 86 ⅝ x 118 ⅛ in. (220 x 300 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin. Photograph by Gert Jan van Rooij

Tala Madani

Born 1981 in Tehran, Iran
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

In the suite of works on view in the 2017 Biennial, Tala Madani asks what it might mean for the body to be full of light, a substance associated—at least since the ancient Greeks—with the mind rather than the body, pure spirit rather than materiality, and men rather than women. Madani renders these ancient patriarchal divisions absurd in a series of brilliantly colored paintings in which various orifices emit light from bodies’ interiors. “Front projections” suggest life, desire, and creativity, while scatological “rear projections” are ecstatic and nightmarish all at once. A sunset produced mechanically through screenprinting becomes part of a meditation on the cycle of life and death, while in an animated video, a luminous God delivers a lesson in sexual education.

Tala Madani (b. 1981), Shitty Disco, 2016. Oil on linen, 55 x 44 in. (140 x 112 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Pilar Corrias Gallery, London

Porpentine Charity Heartscape

Born 1987
Lives in Oakland, CA

Relying almost entirely on the written word, Porpentine Charity Heartscape creates web-based games that build fantastic and frightening worlds a player must navigate by making choices. Heartscape employs popular genres and narrative tropes to examine power dynamics and conflicting feelings of dignity and shame, at times directly challenging or frustrating the player.

In With Those We Love Alive, the player is an inventor who must recover from childhood trauma while performing tasks for a monstrous empress. The player is sometimes prompted to take action in the real world—to literally draw occult signs on her skin representing her feelings during the game, for instance.

In howling dogs, the player is alone in a metal cell. Days pass, punctuated only by meals, sleep, and periodic withdrawals into virtual reality, worlds within the world of the game that summon both the pleasure and the danger of escapism.

Porpentine Charity Heartscape (b. 1987) and Neotenomie, With Those We Love Alive, 2014. Hypertext. Courtesy the artists

GCC

(Nanu Al-Hamad, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Aziz Alqatami, Barrak Alzaid, Khalid al Gharaballi, Amal Khalaf, Fatima Al Qadiri, and Monira Al Qadiri)
Founded 2013

GCC’s sculptural installation for the 2017 Biennial dramatizes a bit of tabloid news: in October 2016, police were called to a beach in the United Arab Emirates when a melon—covered in talismanic inscriptions and punctured by nails—washed ashore. The object was considered a vessel of so-called black magic, which is illegal in the UAE. “While the governments of the Gulf countries have selectively chosen to revitalize certain aspects of the region’s cultural heritage, sorcery is relegated to the fringe,” GCC noted.

Such contradictions of modern life in the region animate the work of the eight-member collective, whose name co-opts the abbreviation for the Gulf Cooperation Council, the political and economic union of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. By monumentalizing the magical melon in the center of a traffic roundabout—which the group sees as a “ubiquitous remnant of European colonialism and postcolonial influence”—GCC questions the primacy that certain traditions are accorded over others.

On View: Floor 6

GCC (founded 2013), installation view of Local Police find fruit with spells, 2017. Metal, styrofoam, fiberglass, wood, latext pain, concrete pavers, faux rocks and other materials, dimensions variable. Collection of the artists; courtesy Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York; and Project Native Informant, London. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Henry Taylor

Born 1958 in Oxnard, CA
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

Henry Taylor makes paintings that confront the increasingly visible racial tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve. THE TIMES THAY AINT A CHANGING, FAST ENOUGH! draws on the video Diamond Reynolds captured moments after her fiancé, Philando Castile, had been fatally shot by a police officer in July 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota— an incident that sparked protests nationwide. Taylor’s graphic painting insists that such violence requires an urgent response.

Painting of a man grilling meat

Henry Taylor (b. 1958), The 4th, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, top: 90 × 74 in. (228.6 × 188 cm); bottom: 66 × 74 in. (167.6 × 188 cm); overall: 156 × 74 in. (396.2 × 188 cm). Collection of the artist; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo. Photograph by Sam Kahn

Painting of a man grilling meat

Matt Browning

Born 1984 in Redmond, WA
Lives in Seattle, WA

For Matt Browning, crafts such as weaving, stitching, and whittling represent a kind of labor that is often disregarded in art. In his works, he investigates both materiality and the potential reconciliation of traditional craft practices with modernist abstraction. By using folk techniques to create common manufactured forms, Browning brings traces of his hand to structures associated with Minimal and Conceptual art. For the Biennial, Browning created a series of grids. Although they look alike, they are not mass-produced: to make each one, the artist hand-carved a single block of wood into interlocking sections, responding to traditional whittled forms that mimic the links of a chain.

Matt Browning (b. 1984), Untitled, 2016. Wood, collapsed: 3 ½ x 3 ½ x 18 ¼ in (8.9 x 8.9 x 47.6 cm); expanded: 17 ¾ x 17 ¾ x 4 in (45.1 x 45.1 x 10.2 cm). Collection of the artist. Photograph by Maegan Hill-Carroll and Vancouver Art Gallery

Leigh Ledare

Born 1976 in Seattle, WA
Lives in New York, NY

Leigh Ledare’s Vokzal, filmed in Moscow, uses the sprawling public space outside three adjacent train stations as a rubric for mapping complex group dynamics. The film captures interactions between various individuals passing through, working in, loitering around, or policing this area, linking instances of individual behavior to clear signs of social breakdown. Within this environment, competing ideas of order play out, highlighting social fractures and laying bare a collective predicament. Vokzal suggests a portrait of a society unconsciously shifting among various forms of dependency, fight-or-flight responses, pronounced individualism, and non-differentiation. In the 2017 Biennial, the film is split into three looped 16mm projections and interspersed among other works in three galleries. Within this configuration, an analogy emerges: the projectors are to the three stations, just as viewers are to the film’s subjects.

Leigh Ledare (b. 1976), still from Vokzal, 2016. Three components, 16mm film, color, sound; 58 min. total. Collection of The Art Institute of Chicago, restricted gift of the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation. Image courtesy the artist and Mitchell Innes & Nash, New York

Sky Hopinka

Born 1984 in Bellingham, WA
Lives in Milwaukee, WI

Sky Hopinka builds narrative by layering sounds and images, words and perspectives, to form a complex tapestry in which the personal, communal, natural, and historical are intertwined. In his experimental documentary films, language represents both a means to knowledge and a frustrating hindrance to understanding. In Visions of an Island, 2016, Hopinka presents a portrait of St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea, home to the largest Aleut population in the world and large colonies of seals and seabirds. In one scene, silhouetted figures speak haltingly in the language of their ancestors. Their struggle to communicate reminds us that cultural heritage is defined neither by land nor by parentage.

Screenings:

Sky Hopinka (b. 1984), still from Visions of an Island, 2016. Digital video, color, sound; 15 min. Collection of the artist

KAYA

(Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers)
Founded 2010

Painter Kerstin Brätsch and sculptor Debo Eilers produce work together as KAYA, a name taken from the project’s muse and collaborator Kaya Serene, the daughter of a friend, who was thirteen when the three began working together in 2010. KAYA’s work exists at the intersection of painting, sculpture, and performance. The physical components often have potential for future activation: the “Processione” and “body-bag” forms on view in the Biennial evoke objects used in pageantry or ritual, and lockers taken from the shared bathroom at Brätsch and Eilers’s adjacent studios have been refashioned into a ceremonial stage. The artists think of KAYA as a third consciousness, something encompassing and yet also beyond their individual practices.

KAYA (founded 2010), installation view of SERENE, 2017. Mixed media, dimensions variable. Collection of the artists; courtesy Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; On Stellar Rays, New York; Meyer Kainer, Vienna; and Deborah Schamoni, Munich. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Deana Lawson

Born 1979 in Rochester, NY
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Deana Lawson’s carefully staged photographs capture scenes of self-love, friendship, romance, familial connection, and desire. Her subjects often gaze directly at the viewer, boldly commanding the experience of being viewed. In doing so, Lawson’s images subvert the ways in which portrayals of Black bodies are often subject to biased perceptions of Black personhood in American culture. While her images are inspired by traditional family photo albums, Lawson’s works feature strangers, individuals she casts from the street for compositions of her own design. Her portraits, full of memory and possibility, invite the viewer to reckon with how people imagine and invent stories about themselves and others in the world.

Deana Lawson (b. 1979), Ring Bearer, 2016. Inkjet print, 43 x 54 in. (109.2 x 137.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Park McArthur

Born 1984 in Raleigh, NC
Lives in New York, NY

Park McArthur produced her work for the 2017 Biennial following federal specifications for signs designating cultural points of interest such as museums, national parks, and battlefields. As directed by the Manual of Unified Traffic Control Devices, she had signs manufactured in one-eighth-inch-thick aluminum with rounded radius edges, using the Pantone 469 shade of brown. The Whitney Museum is a textbook example of the kind of cultural site that official roadside signs designate. McArthur’s signs differ quite obviously from those produced by the government, however, in that they are blank. In their openness, McArthur’s works maintain the possibly of gesturing toward points of interest that fall outside of traditional histories, including those that have been radically transformed by—even lost to—the gentrifying city, such as the Meatpacking District, or the nearby West Side piers that were once sites of a thriving shipping industry and centers of gay art, sex, and life.

This image represents previous work by Park McArthur. The work on view in the Biennial is Another word for memory is life, 2017.

Park McArthur (b. 1984), detail of Às vezes você é ambxs, 2016. Twenty-five plinths (stainless steel and latex rubber), 34 x 19 x 33 in. (86.4 x 48.3 x 83.8 cm) each. Installation view: Incerteza viva: 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, September 7–December 11, 2016. Courtesy the artist; ESSEX STREET, New York; and Galerie Lars Friedrich, Berlin. Photograph by Pedro Ivo Trasferetti/Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Zarouhie Abdalian

Born 1982 in New Orleans, LA
Lives in New Orleans, LA

Zarouhie Abdalian’s Chanson du ricochet is a subtle spatial and sonic intervention intended to shift a visitor’s experience of a site—in this case, from the Whitney’s sixth- and seventh-floor terrace staircases to the cityscape below. A voice emitted by speakers recites a series of words, including “machete,” “choke-strap,” “tenderizer,” “pincushion,” and “whip.” With this vocabulary, Abdalian calls attention to the often-invisible labor that goes into the development of buildings and neighborhoods. Here, the words reference the history of the Meatpacking District as well as that of the two previous locations of Chanson: antebellum structures at the New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture, and History and a road near a converted nineteenth-century factory on the campus of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

The work on view is a sound piece that can be heard on the staircase between the sixth and seventh floors.

The staircase between the sixth- and seventh-floor terraces, Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Deborah Gwinn

Asad Raza

Born 1974 in Buffalo, NY
Lives in New York, NY

In Root sequence. Mother tongue, Asad Raza brings the forest—a space of myth and fairy tales—into the Museum. Raza has described the twenty-six trees growing in the space as characters, individual inhabitants in a living network that includes the humans charged with caring for them. Included in the installation are personal possessions belonging to the trees’ caretakers. Raza intends to create an environment that gives visitors a parklike respite from the tasks of viewing, judgment, and critique that usually constitute the museum experience.

As part of Root sequence. Mother tongue (2017), Asad Raza has invited a series of guests to occupy the installation with choreographic, musical, and intellectual events for weekend visitors to the museum. Comprising mentors, friends, and younger creative practitioners, the group is a plurivocal portrait of the artist’s community. .

Caretakers: Natalie Ball, Jaquen Castellanos, WooJae Chung, Descha Daemgen, Leah Goudsmit , Nikima Jagudajev, Abigail Levine, Elena Light, Jordan Morley, Jody Oberfelder, Rafay Rashid, Drue Schwartz; Horticulturist: Tim Kerins; Scents: Alia Raza; Sound recordings: Nicolas Becker.

Asad Raza (b. 1974), detail of Root sequence. Mother tongue, 2017. Whitney Biennial 2017. Photograph © Paula Court

Kaari Upson

Born 1972 in San Bernardino, CA
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

In Kaari Upson’s recent work, she transforms the soft, flaccid forms of upholstered furniture into solid sculptures. To make the work on view in the 2017 Biennial, she worked from a sectional sofa she found in a Las Vegas tract home and then left in the driveway behind her Los Angeles studio for a year and a half, casting its sections in urethane again and again. The resulting sculptures are still recognizable as furniture, but Upson obscures her sources both by reorienting the forms and by painting the surfaces to abstract the stains the upholstery accrued through use and exposure. Drooping against the wall like a flayed skin or rearing up to tower over the viewer, the sculptures take on a visceral quality, suggesting at once the interior and exterior of the human body.

Abstract pink sculptures hanging in a corner

Kaari Upson (b. 1972), installation view of In Search of the Perfect Double II, 2016. Urethane, pigment, and aluminum, 93 × 47 × 36 in. (236.2 × 119.28 × 91.44 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Sprüth Magers, Berlin, London, and Los Angeles; and Massimo De Carlo, Milan, London, and Hong Kong Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Abstract pink sculptures hanging in a corner

An-My Lê

Born 1960 in Saigon, Vietnam
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

In a suite of photographs from her new project, The Silent General, An-My Lê examines allusions to the past in modern-day Louisiana. In one image, a monument to a Confederate Army general quietly interrupts a quotidian urban landscape; another captures a moment on the set of a recent film about a Confederate Army deserter. As in so many of Lê’s works, in these images the imagined past and the actual present coexist in the same frame, begging the question: when does history end and the present begin? Taken as a group, the photographs propose that perhaps history never ends, that the raw materials of America’s bloodiest war—issues of race, class, labor, and wealth—are still deeply enmeshed in the landscape of the United States and the fabric of its society.

An-My Lê (b. 1960), Film Set ("Free State of Jones"), Battle of Corinth, Bush, Louisiana, 2015. Inkjet print, 40 x 56 1/2 in. (101.6 x 143.5 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy STX Entertainment, Los Angeles

Jordan Wolfson

Born 1980 in New York, NY
Lives in New York, NY

In Jordan Wolfson’s Real violence, a virtual reality film, we witness the artist himself engaged in an act of unexplained violence. The victim makes eye contact with us intermittently, possibly implicating us in the scenario. 

Wolfson is interested in violence as a rupture or distortion of our everyday consciousness. Presented as it is in the Biennial with no motive or backstory, the assault is almost a distillation of pure intensity—one that is ritualistically heightened by a recording of Chanukah blessings. Though the chanting is not explained, the artist has explored other facets of Jewish identity in previous works. Virtual reality is often exploited for its high-tech gloss and interactivity; Wolfson focuses not on the technology but on its capacity to isolate the viewer.

Jordan Wolfson (b.1980), installation view of Real violence, 2017. Virtual reality headsets, high-definition video, color, Sound; 2:25 min. 2017 Whitney Biennial ( March 17–June 11, 2017). Collection of the artist; courtesy David Zwirner, New York, and Sadie Coles HQ, London

Samara Golden

Born 1973 in Ann Arbor, MI
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

Samara Golden addresses the idea of psychological space through disassembled interior architecture, often creating illusions with reflective surfaces and upended objects and rooms. Her site-specific installation for the 2017 Biennial adjoins the Museum’s formidable west-facing windows on the fifth floor. Golden’s work incorporates these windows as well as the river and sky beyond, with mirrors placed on the ceiling and floor creating an infinite visual abyss. The structure is stratified, both spatially and socially. Using handmade sculptures of furniture and other everyday objects, she creates a series of environments seemingly in conflict with each other: a penthouse apartment, an image of aspirational wealth; a middle-class home full of art projects and plants; a drab, cluttered office; and an institutional space that the artist describes as part hospital, part prison. Viewed from an elevated platform, the installation has a disorienting effect, evoking the anxiety produced by a political climate rife with social and economic inequality.

Image of a space reflected infinitely in a series of mirrors.

Samara Golden, The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes, 2017. Insulation foamboard, extruded polystryrene, epoxy resin, carpet, vinyl, fabric, acrylic paint, spray paint, nail polish, plastic, altered found objects and mirror, 14 x 33 1/12 ft. (4.3 x 10.1 m). Collection of the artist; courtesy Night Gallery, Los Angeles, and CANADA, New York. Photograph by Samara Golden

Image of a space reflected infinitely in a series of mirrors.

Casey Gollan and Victoria Sobel

Casey Gollan
Born 1991 in Los Angeles, CA
Lives in New York, NY

Victoria Sobel
Born 1990 in Washington, DC
Lives in New York, NY

In their work, Casey Gollan and Victoria Sobel and their frequent collaborators examine the metaphors that underpin the language and physical structures of institutions. For their 2017 Biennial installation, they selected a bay of windows that is often covered by a wall. Words and images, framed within a hopscotch court and windowpanes, invite the viewer to symbolically cast a stone or traverse the text. At the same time, the work is a provocation: an expression on the window, “UNDER THE SIDEWALK...ANTS...!” reworks a phrase from the 1968 student strikes in Paris that was a threat to topple the university system. With this reference, Gollan and Sobel point to the idea of “stigmergy,” the process by which insects communicate through leaving physical traces on their environment, a phenomenon that testifies to the power of group coordination.

Casey Gollan (b. 1991) and Victoria Sobel (b. 1990), installation view of Reflections, 2017. Vinyl, three components, 178 ¼ x 28 ¼ in. (452.8 x 71.8 cm) each. Collection of the artists. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Irena Haiduk

Biographical information not given

In the 2017 Biennial, a mirrored tower broadcasts the “Whitney Frauenbank” network, which visitors can access using their WiFi-enabled devices. The tower provides access to Frauenbank (2017), a cooperative named after the first women-owned-and-operated bank that operated in 1910s Berlin. Museum visitors who log into “Whitney Frauenbank” and self-identify as female will be directed to the Frauenbank web app on the .YU domain, which is only accessible at the Museum. Upon opening the app, they will be guided through the process of acquiring membership to and taking part in the future of Frauenbank.

Frauenbank is structured as a decentralized autonomous organization on the global Ethereum network, where operations are recorded and verified in a public ledger called a blockchain. Its immutable peer-to-peer contract equalizes power in that each member gets one vote regardless of the number of shares held. Contributed financial assets are put towards the purchase of land in Serbia—something only possible in the wake of a 2017 law permitting foreign acquisition of real estate there. Frauenbank creates a cooperative space for women and a new kind of property. Neither private nor public, both are grounded in the former Yugoslavia’s digital and physical domain.

Irena Haiduk, The Birth of Frauenbank, 2017. Digital photograph, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist; courtesy Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago

Lyle Ashton Harris

Born 1965 in Bronx, NY
Lives in New York, NY

Lyle Ashton Harris’s Once (Now) Again is part of a larger ongoing project, the Ektachrome Archive, comprising slide images shot between 1986 and 1998, photographic prints from the artist’s journals, and diaristic video works. The resulting assemblage serves to both memorialize and evoke moments lived at the intersection of the personal and the political.

Bearing witness to a period of seismic shifts—the emergence of multiculturalism, the second wave of AIDS activism, and the interconnection of the contemporary art scene with LGBTQ and African diasporic communities—Harris’s archive documents his friends, family, and lovers. By setting intimate moments alongside landmark events (such as the Black Popular Culture Conference in 1991, the truce between the Crips and the Bloods in 1992, the Black Male exhibition at the Whitney in 1994, and the Black Nations/Queer Nations Conference in 1995), the archive constructs collective and private narratives to comment on identity, desire, sexuality, and loss.

Ektachrome slide images from the three-channel video installation Ektachrome Archives (New York Mix) (2017), part of Once (Now) Again, are available to view online.

Lyle Ashton Harris (b. 1965), Lyle, London, 1992, 2015. Chromogenic print, 20 ½ x 15 in. (52.1 x 38.1 cm). Collection of the artist

Ajay Kurian

Born 1984 in Baltimore, MD
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Ajay Kurian’s Childermass stretches from floor to ceiling in the Whitney’s open stairwell, stringing a series of “episodes” into a loose, almost sci-fi narrative of mutual misunderstanding and bodily anxiety. The installation is inhabited by a variety of surreal or nightmarish characters, including children who are part animal or part machine, moon men, and other creatures. Crowning the installation is a chrome chameleon that Kurian sees as simultaneously open, changeable, and tyrannical—an appropriate allegorical figure for today’s political climate. The chameleon’s eyes are optical retroreflectors, prisms that reflect viewers’ own eyes back to them. The eerie effect distills the discomfort about otherness evident in the tense, enigmatic vignettes of the installation.

On View: Stairwell

Ajay Kurian (b. 1984), detail of Childermass, 2017. Plaster, sulfur, goldstone, steel, epoxy resin, polyurethane resin, custom clothing, screen printed T-shirt, sneakers, spray paint, LEDS and duct tape, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist; courtesy 47 Canal, New York. Photograph by Ben Ganscos

Occupy Museums

(Arthur Polendo, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Kenneth Pietrobono, Noah Fischer, and Tal Beery)
Founded 2011

Formed during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, Occupy Museums connects the struggle for economic and social equity to art institutions, highlighting instances when they propagate and normalize injustice. In 2012, the collective launched Debtfair, an exhibition platform that categorizes artists according to their debts and other financial realities. The system reveals the relationships binding individuals to the banks holding their loans—a hidden but highly consequential factor underlying American art.

For the new version of Debtfair, Occupy Museums produced for the Biennial, the collective generated a survey for American artists (with a focus on those from Puerto Rico) on the website debtfair.org, gathering data from over five hundred applicants. Selected works from thirty of these indebted artists were then literally embedded into a wall of the Whitney Museum and organized according to the type of debt that they owe. The arrangement points to the ways in which the art institution itself benefits from the debtor economy. Debt markets produce lucrative profits for wealthy individuals, who make up the majority of museum board members and the collector class. In the Biennial, this relationship is embodied in the figure of Larry Fink, a trustee at the Museum of Modern Art and the CEO of mega-asset-management company BlackRock (which trades on every debt represented on the wall). Works in Debtfair are plotted on a graph that situates an art object’s precarious value between the fault lines of an increasing trade in debts on one hand and the ultra luxury asset market for contemporary art on the other. With Debtfair, Occupy Museums calls on artists and the art-viewing public to recognize that rising debts destabilize American art communities while delivering profits to elites, therefore necessitating resistance.

Occupy Museums (founded 2011), Debtfair, 2017.  Thirty artworks and interactive website, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artists. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Raúl de Nieves

Born 1983 in Morelia, Mexico
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

For his site-specific work for the 2017 Biennial, Raúl de Nieves covered six floor-to-ceiling windows with eighteen “stained-glass” panels he made using paper, wood, glue, tape, beads, and acetate sheets. The windows create a vivid backdrop for de Nieves’s elaborately beaded sculptures, some of which are based on shoes (but are adorned to the point of abstraction), while others take the form of figures draped in heavy costumes worn by the artist in his performances.

In all of his work, de Nieves treats modest materials with meticulous attention, turning the mundane into the fantastical—with metamorphosis a common theme. The windows depict a world in which death and waste are omnipresent, often symbolized by a fly. Unlike many Western spiritual traditions, however, de Nieves presents death as a metaphor for the possibility of spectacular transformation and rebirth in an unpredictable and turbulent world.

Raúl De Nieves (b. 1983), installation view of Somos Monstros 2, 2016. Beads, glue, found trim, cardboard, costume jewelry, and dress, 86 x 32 x 23 in. (218.4 x 81.3 x 58.4 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Company Gallery. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Born 1955 in Newark, NJ
Lives in Chicago, IL

For Claim (Whitney Version), Pope.L created a grid of 2,755 slices of bologna, each affixed with a black-and-white photocopied snapshot of a person. A text mounted within the work “claims” that the number of slices corresponds to a percentage of New York’s population of 1,086,000 Jewish residents.

Pope.L’s numbers are, in his words, “a bit off.” The total number of slices indicated is off by two, and several slices have been removed. Moreover, the so-called portraits “representing” Jews were made without regard for their subjects’ cultural identities. Pope.L has previously made multiple versions within this family of works, many focusing on Black subjects. Claim (Whitney Version) plays with our tendency to project ourselves onto numbers and stokes our awareness that such counting often lays the groundwork for systematic acts of discrimination. The anxiety provoked by the work’s calculated absurdity questions the power of “big data,” raising the specter of its use for nefarious ends—from controlling whose votes are valuable, to who can enter and leave the country freely.

Pope.L aka William Pope.L, Claim (Whitney Version), 2017. Acrylic paint, graphite pencil, pushpins, wood, framed document, fortified wine and bologna with black-and-white portraits, 15 × 16 3/4 × 16 3/4 ft. (4.6 × 5.1 × 5.1 m). Collection of the artist; courtesy Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

John Riepenhoff

Born 1982 in Milwaukee, WI
Lives in Milwaukee, WI

John Riepenhoff founded the Green Gallery in Milwaukee in 2004, when he was twenty-two; his cousin Jake Palmert joined him in 2009. Over the past several years, Riepenhoff has merged his roles as artist and gallerist, resulting in projects such as The John Riepenhoff Experience, in which an artwork is shown in an intimate space approximately the size of a person’s head. The name of the project “was a comment on ego in the art world,” Riepenhoff has said. “I like to think of a gallery as larger than the identity of the gallerist who started it, so I made the smallest gallery I could and named it after myself.” With his series Handler, Riepenhoff pays homage to the invisible machinations of the art world. Each sculpture consists of a pair of legs, made from papier-mâché and modeled on the artist’s own, that supports a two-dimensional work by another artist.

John Riepenhoff (b. 1982), Handler, 2015. Papier-mâché, figerglass, wood, wire, fabric and shoes, 50 × 19 × 14 in. (127 × 48.3 × 35.6 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Marlborough Contemporary, New York. With Peter Barrickman, November Edit, 2017. Acrylic, pigmented foil, tape splicer, lighting gels, vinyl siding, spackle, rocks, plastic labels, cardboard and paper on panel, 44 ½ x 36 in. (113 x 91.4 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy The Green Gallery, Milwaukee. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Chemi Rosado-Seijo

Born 1973 in Vega Alta, PR
Lives in San Juan and Naranjito, PR

Chemi Rosado-Seijo’s contribution to the Biennial is a conceptual project with everyday implications. A gallery from the exhibition has been “moved” to the Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, a public high school on the Lower East Side, while a classroom from the school has been moved to the Whitney. Students from the school will meet in the Museum for their lessons over the course of the exhibition, and works by Biennial artists Sky Hopinka and Jessi Reaves will be on view in the school.  

Like many of Rosado-Seijo’s projects, Salón-Sala-Salón (Classroom/Gallery/Classroom) has an exploratory nature, in this case resulting from different social groups coming together for a period of time. The energy of the large group of young, curious students activates the Museum to function differently, while placing artworks at the school recontextualizes them as tools for learning.

Chemi Rosado-Seijo’s collaboration with LOMA can be visited Saturdays and Sundays from 12–6 pm. LOMA is located at 350 Grand St, New York, NY 10002. Visitors should enter through the red doors. The main entrance to LOMA is not wheelchair accessible, however alternate entry is available by request. To make an appointment or to inquire about access concerns please contact us at or (212) 570-3600.

Chemi Rosado Seijo (b. 1973), installation view of Salón-Sala-Salón (Classroom/Gallery/Classroom), 2017. Educational collaboration with the Lower Manhattan Arts Academy and instructor Julie Roinos. Courtesy Embajada, San Juan. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Dana Schutz

Born 1976 in Livonia, MI
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

In Dana Schutz’s painting for the Biennial, Elevator, figures are seen embroiled in a struggle, both with themselves and with larger-than-life insects, denoting a state of anxiety and alarm. The work (whose dimensions mirror those of the Museum’s large freight elevator) plays with time, as action and gesture appear suspended. Like a truncated history painting, an epic scene is glimpsed between two doors that may be closing or opening. Schutz deploys the transitional space of the elevator as a metaphor for other social spaces that are at once public and private, intimate and estranging, inviting us to consider our own position or role amid the chaos.

Dana Schutz (b. 1976), Elevator, 2017. Oil on canvas, 144 x 180 in. (365.8 x 457.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Petzel Gallery, New York and Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Frances Stark

Born 1967 in Newport Beach, CA
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

Frances Stark’s recent series on view in the Biennial borrows from the incendiary writing of punk musician, cult figure, and author Ian F. Svenonius. Stark hand-painted page-spreads from the title essay in his 2015 book Censorship Now!! In the essay, Svenonius contends that the battle for artistic freedom of speech has been “won” at the cost of art’s irrelevance and powerlessness, suggesting that this supposed liberty only makes artists both more complicit in, and more vulnerable to, militaristic and capitalistic oppression. Artists, he proposes, should take control of censorship in order to eliminate everything from bland nonsense to mass-produced pop to expressions of fascist ideology. Svenonius’s tone is extreme, but Stark leaves it to us to determine his intent. She painted the text on a monumental scale, indicating a high level of commitment to his radical position, especially the ideas in passages she has underlined.

Frances Stark (b. 1967), Ian F. Svenonius’s “Censorship Now” for the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Spread 3 of 8 (pp.16-17) (the state, like a rampaging mob boss), 2017. Gesso, ink, oil and acrylic on canvas, 79 × 104 in. (188 × 264.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Torey Thornton

Born 1990 in Macon, GA
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Torey Thornton employs an eclectic range of materials in his work, adopting a collage-like approach that reflects an expanded conception of painting. Occasionally incorporating fragments of plastic or wood, Thornton populates his paintings on panel with a mix of ambiguous forms, frenetic drawing, and cartoonish objects, all suspended within a purposefully indeterminate pictorial space. When hung on a wall, Thornton’s work hovers between painting and sculpture, and also alludes to ideas about intimacy, gender, and the body.

Torey Thornton (b. 1990), First Cynthia, 2014. Acrylic, spraypaint, oil pastel, and charcoal on wood, 54 x 47½ in. (137.2 x 120.6 cm). Courtesy the artist and Moran Bondaroff Gallery, Los Angeles. Photograph by Cooper Dodds

John Divola

Born 1949 in Santa Monica, CA
Lives in Riverside, CA

Since the 1970s, John Divola has used photography to explore themes of neglect and disuse in his native Southern California. The series Abandoned Paintings was inspired by the artist’s discovery of a trove of discarded student paintings in a dumpster near the University of California, Riverside, where he is a longtime professor. Divola incorporated the salvaged paintings into his work, hanging the aspirational, often-unfinished canvases on the walls of abandoned buildings. In the resulting photographs, the paintings seem both out of place and uncannily suited to their surroundings. In Abandoned Painting B, for instance, the subject of a portrait appears to glance out of an adjacent window, reflecting photography’s capacity to frame and transform reality rather than simply record it.

John Divola (b. 1949), Abandoned Painting B, 2007. Inkjet print, 44 x 54 in. (111.8 x 137.2 cm). Collection of the artist;  courtesy Maccarone Gallery, New York and Los Angeles, and Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, CA

Oto Gillen

Born 1984 in New York, NY
Lives in New York, NY

Oto Gillen’s New York is at once familiar and strange, mundane and futuristic. A lifelong New Yorker, he spent more than a year walking the city’s streets to create the images on view in the 2017 Biennial. The gradual rise of a tower at the World Trade Center complex and changing seasons mark the passage of time in his ever-shifting portrait of the city. Views of passersby and close-ups of objects record the intimate, fleeting encounters of daily life at street level, while images of looming skyscrapers convey the city’s vast scale and evolving skyline. Gillen’s photographs capture individual residents but also allude to the larger economic, political, and social forces that entangle them.

Oto Gillen (b. 1984), installation view of New York, 2015–ongoing. High-definition video, color, silent; approx. 105 min. Collection of the artist. Photograph by Oto Gillen

Jon Kessler

Born 1957 in Yonkers, NY
Lives in New York, NY

Jon Kessler makes what he calls “performative sculptures,” whose humor and kitsch belie their serious critique. The two works on view in the 2017 Biennial, Exodus and Evolution, are part of a larger in-process project, The Floating World, which addresses the social and environmental impacts of climate change. In Exodus, the series of eBay-sourced figurines that rotate around a screen in an endless march are evocative of mass migrations of people, whether from natural disasters or political situations such as the Syrian refugee crisis. Evolution focuses attention on rising sea levels; two figures in snorkel gear take pictures, apparently indifferent to or ignorant of any impending danger. The repeating image of a proposed luxury residential skyscraper by the late architect Zaha Hadid reinforces the artist’s point: even as the effects of climate change displace millions in low-lying areas, those who can afford not to care are still choosing to build waterfront pleasure palaces.

Jon Kessler (b. 1957), Exodus, 2016. Trunk, wood, aluminum, rubber wheel, found  figurines, iPhone with selfie stick, LCD  screen and motor, 81 x 47 x 66 in. (205.7 x 119.4 x 167.6 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Salon 94, New York. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Carrie Moyer

Born 1960 in Detroit, MI
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Carrie Moyer’s vibrant paintings unabashedly embrace visual pleasure, juxtaposing luminous, watery veils of paint in bright hues, often mixed with glitter, with precisely outlined areas of flat color. Moyer begins a painting by creating small collages from cut paper, using the bold, graphic shapes as scaffolding for expanses of poured acrylic, a medium she prefers both for its material versatility and its popular connotations: a type of plastic, it gives form to everything from toys to nail polish. Elements in Moyer’s recent paintings suggest architecture at times, or landscape and the body at others. As the artist explains, “I’m interested in abstract painting that is experienced both visually and physically. The forms are constantly shifting from the familiar to the strange in a way that seems to escape words.”

Carrie Moyer (b. 1960), Glimmer Glass, 2016. Acrylic and glitter on canvas, 96 x 78 in. (243.8 x 198.1 cm). Collection of the artist; DC Moore Gallery, New York

Tuan Andrew Nguyen

Born 1976 in Saigon, Vietnam
Lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s short film The Island is shot entirely on Pulau Bidong, an island off the coast of Malaysia that became the largest and longest-operating refugee camp after the Vietnam War. The artist and his family were some of the 250,000 people who inhabited the tiny island between 1978 and 1991; it was once one of the most densely populated places in the world. After the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees shuttered the camp in 1991, Pulau Bidong became overgrown by jungle, filled with crumbling monuments and relics.

Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s film takes place in a dystopian future in which the last man on earth—having escaped forced repatriation to Vietnam—finds a United Nations scientist who has washed ashore after the world’s last nuclear battle. By weaving together footage from Bidong’s past with a narrative set in its future, Nguyen questions the individual’s relationship to history, trauma, nationhood, and displacement.

Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976), production photograph for The Island, 2017. Ultra-high-definition video, color, sound; 42:05 min. Courtesy the artist

Aliza Nisenbaum

Born 1977 in Mexico City, Mexico
Lives in Brooklyn, NY 

Aliza Nisenbaum’s portraits make use of bold color and pattern in order to frame modest, intimate scenes. She often depicts undocumented immigrants, many of whom Nisenbaum first met while she was teaching a class called “English through Art History.” Nisenbaum works with live models and considers the encounter between artist and sitter an ethical one in which the two parties come to trust and know each other well. Her images personalize the immigrant experience and give visibility to the normally unseen.

Aliza Nisenbaum (b. 1977), La Talaverita, Sunday Morning NY Times, 2016. Oil on linen, 68 x 88 in. (172.7 x 223.5 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy T293 Gallery, Rome and Mary Mary, Glasgow

Postcommodity

(Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist)
Founded 2007

A Very Long Line, a video installation by Postcommodity, focuses on the border between the United States and Mexico, an emotionally and politically charged site that has become even more contentious through the 2016 election and the beginning of the current presidential administration.

The installation is designed to disorient, with spinning video projections and out-of-sync audio evoking “genesis amnesia,” or the condition of forgetting one’s own origins. In this case, what has been forgotten—primarily by citizens of the United States—is the Indigenous status of peoples from the Western Hemisphere, including immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala. Forgotten, too, are the Indigenous trade and migration routes that have crisscrossed what is now the border since before European colonization. Filmed from the window of a car, A Very Long Line brings those routes into the dizzying present, one in which the border is never fully known or understood.

Postcommodity (founded 2007), still from A Very Long Line, 2016. Four-channel digital video, color, sound. Courtesy the artists

Maya Stovall

Born 1982 in Detroit, MI
Lives in Detroit, MI

Maya Stovall employs a mix of anthropological observation and urban intervention to create what she considers performance and ethnography. Stovall’s current research focuses on Detroit, where she grew up. The subjects in her video for the 2017 Biennial are her neighbors in the McDougall-Hunt area on the city’s east side. In Liquor Store Theatre, she dances on the sidewalks and streets outside neighborhood liquor stores, combining elements of ballet and contemporary movement. After each performance, she invites her audience—largely these establishments’ patrons and other passersby—to share their recollections of and predictions for Detroit, which she records on video. The artist focused on liquor stores in particular because they serve as hubs of both commerce and community, with individuals selling clothing, electronic goods, and other everyday items in their immediate vicinity. They are, in Stovall’s words, “a backstage view of ongoing life in a neighborhood, in spite of narratives of abandonment.”

Maya Stovall (b. 1982), Liquor Store Theatre, vol. 1, no. 1, 2014. Digital video, color, sound; 4 min. Courtesy the artist, Eric Johnston, and Todd Stovall

Anicka Yi

Born 1971 in Seoul, South Korea
Lives in Queens, NY

Anicka Yi’s 3D film The Flavor Genome explores perception and the ways in which it can be altered and formed through sensory experiences. It is centered on a prospecting mission in the Brazilian Amazon: a hunt for a mythical plant prized for its medicinal properties, described only in terms of its desirability and elusiveness. The plant is thus imagined as a trophy for the pharmaceutical industry and a screen for colonialist projections onto the rainforest.

The film’s protagonist is a “flavor chemist,” a figure who symbolizes a breakdown between the natural and artificial, in direct contrast to the synthesized, hybrid organisms she seeks in one of the film’s several storylines. Yi’s film considers a rich set of concerns, including new developments in both genetic engineering and biotechnology, imperialist exploitation, and the way that cross-pollinated forms—repulsive but perhaps inevitable—permeate contemporary life, culture, and science.

Anicka Yi (b. 1971), still from The Flavor Genome, 2016. High-definition 3D video, color, sound; 22 min. Collection of the artist; courtesy 47 Canal, New York

Julien Nguyen

Born 1990 in Washington, DC
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

Julien Nguyen’s paintings on view in the Biennial, Executive Function and Executive Solutions, employ the front-page layout design of the New York Times as a framing device. Executive Function represents what the artist calls a “microcosm of tragedy,” one characterized by conflict, including a battle depicted in the upper half of the work. Executive Solutions meanwhile presents desolate scenes of apathy, alienation, and exhaustion. These paintings mix Renaissance practices (such as the use of encaustic and one-point perspective) with cartoons, manga, and anime characters—visually collapsing the past and present to use allegory as a form of live-action or real-time role-play.

Julien Nguyen (b. 1990), Executive Function, 2017. Oil and encaustic on linen-mounted panel, 69 × 63 1/4 in. (175.3 × 160.7 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Neue Alte Brücke, Frankfurt and Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Kamasi Washington

Born 1981 in Los Angeles, CA
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

For the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Kamasi Washington created Harmony of Difference, an original six-movement suite that explores the philosophical possibilities of the musical technique known as counterpoint, which Washington defines as “the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony between separate melodies.”

Washington’s suite includes visual elements wedded to the musical works and draws voraciously from the history of jazz. Each of the first five movements is its own unique composition. The sixth movement, accompanied by a projected film, fuses all five compositions into one simultaneous performance. Beyond the impulse to expand the artistic possibilities within the concept of counterpoint, Washington wanted to create something that opened people’s minds to the gift of diversity. In his own words, “My hope is that witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realize the beauty in our own differences.”

Kamasi Washington (b. 1981), installation view of Harmony of Difference, 2017. Music composition in six parts and two videos, color, sound: 32:16 min. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Shara Hughes

Born 1981 in Atlanta, GA
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

The lush medleys of color, pattern, and texture within Shara Hughes’s landscape paintings are products of both her imagination and her painterly process. Referencing painting’s traditional role of offering a window onto another world, Hughes’s work often presents framed views of hallucinatory realms.

Hughes frequently begins a composition by altering the canvas surface in ways that she then has to improvise against. She might cover part of the canvas in a gessoa thick, gluelike substance that lends the surface a feeling of solidity—or she might spray paint the canvas from behind, making marks that emerge murkily from beneath the weave. These opening moves serve as the artist’s challenge to herself, concrete realities that she must respond to in her creation of psychological scenes that are part landscape, part abstraction.

Shara Hughes (b. 1981), In the Clear, 2016. Oil, acrylic and dye on canvas, 68 x 60 in. (172.7 x 152.4 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Rachel Uffner, New York

Larry Bell

Born 1939 in Chicago, IL
Lives in Taos, NM, and Los Angeles, CA

Larry Bell has exploited the transparency and reflectivity of glass to great effect since the beginning of his career, when he inserted a square piece of glass into a painting and titled it Ghost Box (1962). Over the years, Bell has developed coating and laminating techniques in order to tint his sculptures or imbue them with metallic or smoky finishes. On the fifth-floor terrace, Bell has installed Pacific Red II, a work consisting of six laminated glass cubes; each measures six by eight feet and encloses another six-by-four-foot glass box. The multiple surfaces interplay and respond to their urban surroundings, where glass towers abound.

On View: Floor 5

Overhead view of six red cubes on terrace

Larry Bell (b.1939), installation view of Pacific Red II, 2017. Laminated glass, twenty-four 72 x 96 in. (182.9 x 243.8 cm) panels and twenty-four 72 x 48 in. (182.9 x 121.9 cm) panels. Collection of the artist; courtesy Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles. Photograph by Ben Ganscos

Overhead view of six red cubes on terrace

Matt Browning

Born 1984 in Redmond, WA
Lives in Seattle, WA

For Matt Browning, crafts such as weaving, stitching, and whittling represent a kind of labor that is often disregarded in art. In his works, he investigates both materiality and the potential reconciliation of traditional craft practices with modernist abstraction. By using folk techniques to create common manufactured forms, Browning brings traces of his hand to structures associated with Minimal and Conceptual art. For the Biennial, Browning created a series of grids. Although they look alike, they are not mass-produced: to make each one, the artist hand-carved a single block of wood into interlocking sections, responding to traditional whittled forms that mimic the links of a chain.

Matt Browning (b. 1984), Untitled, 2016. Wood, collapsed: 3 ½ x 3 ½ x 18 ¼ in (8.9 x 8.9 x 47.6 cm); expanded: 17 ¾ x 17 ¾ x 4 in (45.1 x 45.1 x 10.2 cm). Collection of the artist. Photograph by Maegan Hill-Carroll and Vancouver Art Gallery

Harold Mendez

Born 1977 in Chicago, IL
Lives in Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA

Both Harold Mendez’s two- and three-dimensional works feature rich textures and multilayered surfaces that the artist creates through labor-intensive processes. The layers of materials in Harold Mendez’s These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad create a dark, netlike pattern that nearly obscures images of floating, ghostly pairs of eyes. The title—a line spoken by Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare’s guilt-stricken murderess—hints at a troubled conscience. To the artist, the eyes are unwelcome witnesses, like a “memory following you,” prodding viewers to think about personal wrongs committed, and to confront what they might be failing to acknowledge or else have willfully forgotten. 

In American Pictures, a tree trunk covered with the bloodred crushed bodies of cochineal insects is skewered on a wrought-iron bar. The carnation petals scattered across the gridded base are renewed regularly by Museum staff, suggesting a ritual action, as when one leaves flowers at a grave. If—as the title suggests—this is a picture of America, then it is one haunted by the specter of brutality and death.

Harold Mendez (b. 1977), American Pictures, 2016. Reclaimed wrought iron, wood, crushed cochineal insects, staples, industrial work mats, and carnations, 72 x 48 x 48 in. (182.9 x 121.9 x 121.9 cm). Private collection; courtesy the artist and PATRON Gallery, Chicago. Photograph by Matt Carasella

Ulrike Müller

Born 1971 in Brixlegg, Austria
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Throughout her career, Ulrike Müller has explored issues of gender and queer experience, and questioned how collaboration can trouble fixed notions of identity. Those commitments manifest subtly in her installation for the 2017 Biennial, which Müller sited in a transitional space, a passageway that she extended, painted, and transformed to create an almost sculptural presence. With its diverse elements, the artist intends to make viewers’ bodily experiences a meaningful part of the installation. For example, a series of works on paper—quirkily libidinous riffs on modernist abstraction—makes emphatic use of the brush, playing off the idea that the implement is an extension of the hand. Müller’s highly tactile enamel paintings, which she fires onto industrial steel plates, reflect the weather and the viewer in their glassy surfaces, bringing their surroundings into the works.

Ulrike Müller (b. 1971), Some, 2017. Vitreous enamel on steel, 15 ½ × 12 in. (39.4 × 30.5 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Callicoon Fine Arts, New York

Cauleen Smith

Born 1967 in Riverside, CA
Lives in Chicago, IL

Cauleen Smith, who trained as a filmmaker, designed the elaborately hand-stitched banners on view in the Biennial to be used in processions. The works stem in part from the artist’s sense of disgust and fatigue when confronted with video after video offering evidence of police violence against Black people. Texts sewn on one side of the banners use pronouns like “I,” “you,” and “we”—grounding them in personal experience but also acknowledging our complicated shared history as citizens. Smith’s language unfolds like a poem or series of film stills, expressing complexity and contingency as well as frustration, resistance, and mourning. On the other side of the banners, private symbols—including instruments of communication, drops of blood, and surrogates for the human body—suggest the urgent need to be heard in a time of struggle.

Cauleen Smith (b. 1967), installation view of In the Wake, 2017. Satin, poly-satin, quilted pleather, upholstery, wool felt, wool velvet, indigo-dyed silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk satin, embroidery floss, metallic thread, acrylic fabric paint, acrylic hair beads, acrylic barrettes, satin cord, polyester fringe, poly-ilk- tassels, plastic-coated paper, and sequins. Sixteen components, 60 × 48 in. (152.4 × 121.9 cm) each. Collection of the artist; courtesy Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, and Kate Werble Gallery, New York. Photograph by Bill Orcutt. Sewed by: Keeley Haftner, Elgee King, Jinn Bronwen Lee, Kate S. Lee, Elizabeth Van Loan, April Martin, Nicole Mauser, Magritte Emanuel Nankin, Carolina Poveda, Darling Shear, Danielle Wordelman

Cameron Rowland

Born 1988 in Philadelphia, PA
Lives in Queens, NY

For his contribution to the Biennial, Cameron Rowland asked the Whitney to make an investment in a Social Impact Bond, also known as a “Pay for Success” contract. Typically used by city or county governments as austerity measures, these bonds privatize social services, creating investment opportunities. Details regarding the operation of Social Impact Bonds are limited to investors, who sign a non-disclosure agreement to that effect. As of February 27, 2017, the Museum entered into an Agreement with Social Finance, Inc., and transferred funds to a Pay for Success project intended to reduce the rate of adult incarceration. 

In the Biennial, Rowland has framed documents pertaining to this Agreement, including the temporary non-disclosure agreement and a copy of the ,000 wire transfer, as well as the application for the Ventura County Project to Support Reentry, an example of a Pay for Success project. By utilizing the investment capacity of the Museum, Rowland provides a path for the public to receive information on this Social Impact Bond.

Cameron Rowland (b. 1988), Public Money, 2017. Institutional investment in Social Impact Bond

Aaron Flint Jamison

Born 1979 in Billings, MT
Lives in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA

With his Footer/Content Chassis/This Pull Request, Aaron Flint Jamison invites Whitney visitors into a space reserved for employees: a conference room visible but usually inaccessible from the Museum’s central staircase. In its unused utility closet, Jamison has installed a Dell computer (purchased on eBay) identical to one that he found in this location during a site visit. The first computer, which lacked a power cord, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, appealed to the artist as “a redundant institutional object.” 

In his installation, Jamison’s own minitower runs a custom application written in a language called Python on the Ubuntu Server operating system. Throughout the Biennial, Whitney employees can opt to use the program, which will insert a “footer” into every email sent from participating users in the whitney.org domain. This footer makes visible information typically hidden in “headers,” including the recipient’s geographic location, every location in which an email has been opened in the past, and any times when emails have been read by someone other than the intended recipients.

On View: Floor 4

Aaron Flint Jamison (b. 1979), installation view of Footer/Content Chassis/This Pull Request, 2017. Dell computer, server, custom computer application, email disclaimer, artist book (added to daily from an edition of 80), cedar, purple heart, aluminum, and nylon, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist; courtesy Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York and Air de Paris, Paris. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Leslie Thornton and James Richards

Leslie Thornton
Born 1951 in Oak Ridge, TN
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

James Richards
Born 1983 in Cardiff, United Kingdom
Lives in Berlin, Germany, and London, United Kingdom  

Crossing, the first collaboration between Leslie Thornton and James Richards, examines the status of the image in today’s saturated visual environment. Created in response to Bruce Conner’s groundbreaking film CROSSROADS (1976), Crossing is a cryptic collage of imagery drawn from both Thornton and Richards’s archives of original footage. The work is the result of an intense back and forth during which the artists concurrently edited materials from their bases of New York and Berlin to create a shared audiovisual language. 

Alternating between kaleidoscopic grids of heavily manipulated imagery and sparse shots of traffic, figures, animals, and cityscapes, Crossing suggests primal connections between nature and technology and creates new and unexpected ways of understanding otherwise familiar images.

Screenings: 

Leslie Thornton (b. 1951) and James Richards (b. 1983), still from Crossing, 2016. High-definition video, color, sound; 19:10 min. Courtesy the artists and Rodeo, London

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

Born 1972 in San Juan, PR
Lives in San Juan, PR

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz examines postcolonial experiences in the Caribbean, considering how perceptions of authenticity and artifice have historically worked to inform identity. Filmed in Haiti, Marché Salomon (2015) reimagines the titular bustling local market as a cosmic system. Black Beach / Horse / Camp / The Dead / Forces (2016) entwines images from Vieques, Puerto Rico, which for sixty years was the site of a U.S. Navy training and bombing range. In both works Santiago Muñoz films people using improvisation, choreographed gestures, and reenactment to convey lived histories and symbolic alternatives to them. She rejects ethnography’s scientific origins and instead hints at truths beyond what is immediately visible. Santiago Muñoz’s most recent film, The Unspeakable Thing, focuses on the work of Jan Susler, a Chicago-based civil rights lawyer who has represented numerous Puerto Rican political prisoners.

Screenings:

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (b. 1972), still from Marché Salomon, 2015. High-definition video, color, sound; 15:57 min. Courtesy the artist and Galería Agustina Ferreyra, San Juan

Basma Alsharif

Born 1983 in Kuwait City, Kuwait
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

In her sprawling, feature-length film Ouroboros, Basma Alsharif pays homage to the Gaza Strip in an allegorical narrative that posits the end of civilization is also its beginning and that hope can emerge from destruction. Evoking the symbol of the ouroboros, a serpent devouring its own tail, the film alludes to the cyclical nature of both life and history via the epic journey of the heartbroken protagonist, Diego Marcon. 

Diego’s travels meld disparate locations into a single landscape; he traverses the ruins of the Gaza Strip, Indigenous territories in North America, Southern Italy, and the French region of Brittany through a narrative that exists out of time, bound to repeat itself in perpetuity, creating a circle of amnesia as survival. Ouroboros positions us to consider hope, loss, and fragmentation, both from inside and from the margins of the wreckage.

Screenings:

Basma Alsharif (b. 1983), still from Ouroboros, 2017. High-definition video, color, sound, approx. 80 min. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris

Leilah Weinraub

Born 1979 in Los Angeles, CA
Lives in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY

Leilah Weinraub’s film SHAKEDOWN (2017) is an intoxicating, dreamlike portrait of Los Angeles’s African-American lesbian strip club scene, in which a network of female performers attached to a weekly party called Shakedown take center stage. As the women reflect on their lives and work, a promised land comes into view built around sexual display and the desiring gaze of queer women of color, a utopian community organized and sustained by a Black, female microeconomy where money and explicit performances are exchanged in a spirit of ecstatic self-determination. When after several years this utopia erodes, the Shakedown dancers are forced to adapt and confront the reality of commodified labor and hourly wages. The subculture Weinraub documents in SHAKEDOWN is propelled by female creators infamous in their own community but whose cultural contributions are alternately pirated or ignored by society at large.  
 
Blending together rich visual lyricism with an assemblage of interviews, original recordings of performances, archival footage, and indie ads, SHAKEDOWN chronicles the personal and professional relationships of the party’s dancers and organizers, among them: Ronnie-Ron, Shakedown Productions’s creator and emcee; Mahogany, the legendary mother of the scene; Egypt, Shakedown’s star dancer; and Jazmine, the Queen of Shakedown. Mapping out economies of pleasure rarely seen onscreen, Weinraub herself emerges as a desiring participant, rejecting the pose of “neutral onlooker” in favor the intimate gaze of a collaborator and confidante.
 
As a filmmaker, Weinraub has sought to document a new phase in the avant-garde, one led by autonomous communities of color, whose creative output has often been extracted and monetized by mass culture but whose stories have rarely been told on their own terms.

Screenings:

Leilah Weinraub (b. 1979), still from SHAKEDOWN (Biennial edit), 2017. Digital video, color, sound; 64 min. Courtesy the artist

Dani Leventhal

Born 1972 in Columbus, OH
Lives in Columbus, OH

Dani Leventhal’s films make palpable the emotional life of disparate worlds. Using both original scripted and found material, Leventhal creates complex layers of meaning through montage, which renders micronarratives of mortality and desire. In Platonic (2013), a series of recounted stories are interwoven with collected and manipulated images, revealing some of the innumerable idiosyncrasies of human relations. In a narrative turn, Leventhal and Jared Buckhiester made Hard as Opal (2015), which slowly oscillates between expressions of desire and biological instinct to interrogate reproductive proclivities. Strangely Ordinary This Devotion (2017) by Leventhal and Sheilah Wilson, is a visceral exploration of domesticity, queer desire, and fantasy in a world under the threat of climate change; both utilizing and exploding archetypes, the film offers a radical approach to collaboration and the concept of family. In each of these works, Leventhal (and her collaborators) collect and arrange images and moments that are at once peculiar and banal, precious and disturbing, creating resonance and contrast through experimental modes of storytelling.

Screenings:

Dani Leventhal (b. 1972), still from Strangely Ordinary This Devotion, co-directed with Sheilah Wilson, 2017. High-definition video, color, sound, 27 min. Courtesy the artist and Video Data Bank, Chicago

Eric Baudelaire

Born 1973 in Salt Lake City, UT
Lives in Paris, France

In both of his films screening as part of the 2017 Biennial, Eric Baudelaire utilizes Japanese filmmaker Masao Adachi's concept of fukeiron (landscape theory), which posits that the landscape itself is a signifier of power structures, turning his camera at the landscape as seen by his subjects. This cinematic approach enables Baudelaire to display the complex entanglement of his subjects’ radicalization within the political systems under which they live.

The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images combines panoramas of present-day Tokyo and Beirut, archival imagery, and personal memories to illuminate the effects of left-wing radicalism on the film’s protagonists: May Shigenobu, the Lebanon-born daughter of the founder of the communist militant Japanese Red Army; and Masao Adachi, an activist filmmaker who joined the Red Army in Lebanon to support the Palestinian armed resistance. 

Likewise, Also Known as Jihadi uses landscape cinematography and judicial documents to chronicle the journey of a young Islamic State recruit from the neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris where he grew up to the prison in which he is incarcerated today.

Screenings: 

Eric Baudelaire (b. 1973), still from Also Known As Jihadi, 2017. High-definition video, color, sound; 99 min. Courtesy Poulet-Malassis Films, Paris

Robert Beavers

Born 1949 in Brookline, MA
Lives in Berlin, Germany and Falmouth, MA

Groundbreaking avant-garde filmmaker Robert Beavers uses 16mm film to portray the textures and intimacies of everyday life. Beavers’s meticulous compositions serve as luminous representations of beauty and ruminations on mortality. 

In Pitcher of Colored Light and The Suppliant, Beavers renders the domestic spaces of his aging mother and a deceased friend with formal precision and tenderness. Loss and ephemerality similarly permeate Listening to the Space in My Room, a split glimpse at the quotidian lives of an elderly Swiss couple and into the world of the filmmaker at a transitional moment. Looking at love, renewal, and life in pursuit of creativity, the film is a meditation on personal transformation.

Screenings: 

Robert Beavers (b. 1949), still from The Suppliant, 2010. 16mm film, color, sound; 5 min. Courtesy the artist

James N. Kienitz Wilkins

Born in 1983 in Boston, MA
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

James N. Kienitz Wilkins uses formal experimentation with language and performance in films that reflect on the intersections of race, class, and technology. B-ROLL with Andre, for example, features three disembodied and disguised narrators who in turn recount the titular Andre’s time in prison and his obsessions with popular culture and video technologies. By concealing their identities using a voice encoder and stock footage of a figure in a hoodie, an American icon of Black masculinity, Kienitz Wilkins invites the viewer to make assumptions about these narrators in a dance of moral ambiguity. 

Pivoting around the voir dire examination that precedes a trial in which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases, Mediums blends scripted dialogue with appropriated text from jury-selection pamphlets, automotive manuals, fast-food–franchise contracts, and blog posts. The result is a collage of semifictional characters with real-world knowledge who trade information and form alliances, ultimately emphasizing the value of autonomy within mandatory civic participation.

Screenings: April 1–2

James N. Kienitz Wilkins (b. 1983), still from B-ROLL with Andre, 2015. High-definition video, color, sound; 19 min. Collection of the artist; courtesy the artist

Mary Helena Clark

Born 1983 in Santee, SC
Lives in Hamilton, NY

Mary Helena Clark’s films explore invented spaces and hyperreal landscapes. She manipulates visual and sonic fields to mysterious effect, with fractured slices of sound and image serving as clues to narratives that are just out of reach.   

Clark’s The Dragon is the Frame (2014) is a half-remembered reconstruction of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Images of San Francisco’s architectural and urban markershints at Hitchcock’s original film locationsare fused with video footage by the late artist Mark Aguhar (1987–2012). The film is a confounding search for an intangible figure and an elusive glimpse into the intersections of histories both personal and cinematic. Clark’s most recent work, Delphi Falls (2017), complicates filmic conventions by testing the limits of identification with the camera’s point of view. The work destabilizes viewers’ relationships to both subject and narrative as Clark continuously shifts through multiple perspectives, visual languages, and landscapes. 

Mary Helena Clark (b. 1983), still from Delphi Falls, 2016. High-definition video, color, sound; 20 min. Courtesy the artist

Kevin Jerome Everson

Born 1965 in Mansfield, OH
Lives in Charlottesville, VA

Over the past twenty-five years, Kevin Jerome Everson has captured the nuances of Black lived experience on film. Like his earlier work, Everson’s recent short films continue to challenge distinctions between documentary and fiction, revealing incisive depictions of African American life. 

Lost Nothing (2016) utilizes an intimate monologue to examine the daily impact of social conditions on the life of one man, Willie James Crittenden. Sound That and Fe26 (both 2014) offer diverging glimpses of labor utilizing beguiling objects made by the artist. In Ears, Nose and Throat (2016), while receiving a medical exam a woman recounts having witnessed a murder. Fastest Man in the State (2017), codirected by Claudrena N. Harold, reflects on the experience of one of the first African American scholarship athletes at the University of Virginia. Finally, Eason (2016) explores the legacy of the Great Migration by following the trajectory of James Walker Hood Eason, the assassinated leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

Screenings:

Kevin Jerome Everson (b. 1965), still from Ears, Nose and Throat, 2016. 16mm film transferred to high-definition video, color, sound; 10:30 min. Courtesy the artist; Trilobite-Arts DAC, Charlottesville, VA; and Picture Palace Pictures, New York

Harold Mendez

Born 1977 in Chicago, IL
Lives in Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA

Both Harold Mendez’s two- and three-dimensional works feature rich textures and multilayered surfaces that the artist creates through labor-intensive processes. The layers of materials in Harold Mendez’s These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad create a dark, netlike pattern that nearly obscures images of floating, ghostly pairs of eyes. The title—a line spoken by Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare’s guilt-stricken murderess—hints at a troubled conscience. To the artist, the eyes are unwelcome witnesses, like a “memory following you,” prodding viewers to think about personal wrongs committed, and to confront what they might be failing to acknowledge or else have willfully forgotten.

In American Pictures, a tree trunk covered with the bloodred crushed bodies of cochineal insects is skewered on a wrought-iron bar. The carnation petals scattered across the gridded base are renewed regularly by Museum staff, suggesting a ritual action, as when one leaves flowers at a grave. If—as the title suggests—this is a picture of America, then it is one haunted by the specter of brutality and death.

On View: Floors 3 and 5

Harold Mendez (b.1977), These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad, 2017. Tri-directional foil, fiberglass, synthetic rubber, toner and pigment. Collection of the artist. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Rafa Esparza

Born 1981 in Los Angeles, CA
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

For the 2017 Biennial, Rafa Esparza built a rotunda out of adobe bricks made by hand from a combination of clay, horse dung, hay, and water from the Los Angeles River. Esparza’s gesture is a kind of mimicking of American colonization, but in reverse: while historically colonization progressed from east to west, imposing European structures on the land in the process, here Esparza has transformed land from Los Angeles into bricks and transported them to New York. The artist considers the dynamics involved in the labor of making the bricks an important part of the work. For previous projects, he worked alongside his father, who is trained in traditional adobe-making techniques. Here, however, Esparza worked with a group of Brown, queer-identified individuals—Rooster Cabrera, Maria Garcia, and Zena Zendejas—deepening a sense of community that also finds itself reflected in the generosity of the final installation: Esparza invited a number of artists to contribute works to the installation while keeping in mind the possibilities of this particular space, which holds none of the history of social and racial exclusions of a traditional museum gallery.

Esparza standing over fire in dirt trench

Rafa Esparza (b. 1981), installation view of Figure Ground: Beyond the White Field, 2017. Installation with approx. 3,100 adobe bricks, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist. Photograph by Matthew Carasella

Esparza standing over fire in dirt trench

Park McArthur

Born 1984 in Raleigh, NC
Lives in New York, NY

Park McArthur produced her work for the 2017 Biennial following federal specifications for signs designating cultural points of interest such as museums, national parks, and battlefields. As directed by the Manual of Unified Traffic Control Devices, she had signs manufactured in one-eighth-inch-thick aluminum with rounded radius edges, using the Pantone 469 shade of brown. The Whitney Museum is a textbook example of the kind of cultural site that official roadside signs designate. McArthur’s signs differ quite obviously from those produced by the government, however, in that they are blank. In their openness, McArthur’s works maintain the possibly of gesturing toward points of interest that fall outside of traditional histories, including those that have been radically transformed by—even lost to—the gentrifying city, such as the Meatpacking District, or the nearby West Side piers that were once sites of a thriving shipping industry and centers of gay art, sex, and life.

Park McArthur (b. 1984), detail of Às vezes você é ambxs, 2016. Twenty-five plinths (stainless steel and latex rubber), 34 x 19 x 33 in. (86.4 x 48.3 x 83.8 cm) each. Installation view: Incerteza viva: 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, September 7–December 11, 2016. Courtesy the artist; ESSEX STREET, New York; and Galerie Lars Friedrich, Berlin. Photograph by Pedro Ivo Trasferetti/Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Susan Cianciolo

Born 1969 in Providence, RI
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

For the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Susan Cianciolo revisits her 2001 Run Restaurant by presenting it within the Museum’s own eatery, Untitled. An immersive event for the senses, Cianciolo transforms the restaurant into her vision of a communal space. New tapestries and linens, custom uniforms for the wait staff, drawings and collages, performances, and a new multicourse dinner developed in collaboration with Untitled executive chef Michael Anthony will be featured.  

An artist, filmmaker, and fashion designer, Cianciolo has been an influential cultural figure since the 1990s. After closing her clothing label, Run, Cianciolo first presented Run Restaurant at Alleged Gallery, which was across the street from what would become the site of the Whitney’s new building. RUN RESTAURANT UNTITLED is the most complete version of the artist’s restaurant projects to date. Cianciolo invites us to a unique, highly stylized dining experience with shared food, drink, music, and performance.

Susan Cianciolo (b. 1969), Untitled, 2000. Watercolor on paper, 24 x 18 in. (61 x 45.7 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Bridget Donahue, New York

Cauleen Smith

Born 1967 in Riverside, CA|
Lives in Chicago, IL

Cauleen Smith, who trained as a filmmaker, designed the elaborately hand-stitched banners on view in the Biennial to be used in processions. The works stem in part from the artist’s sense of disgust and fatigue when confronted with video after video offering evidence of police violence against Black people. Texts sewn on one side of the banners use pronouns like “I,” “you,” and “we”—grounding them in personal experience but also acknowledging our complicated shared history as citizens. Smith’s language unfolds like a poem or series of film stills, expressing complexity and contingency as well as frustration, resistance, and mourning. On the other side of the banners, private symbols—including instruments of communication, drops of blood, and surrogates for the human body—suggest the urgent need to be heard in a time of struggle.

Cauleen Smith (b. 1967), In the Wake, 2017. Satin, poly-satin, quilted pleather, upholstery, wool felt, wool velvet, indigo-dyed silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk satin, embroidery floss, metallic thread, acrylic fabric paint, acrylic hair beads, acrylic barrettes, satin cord, polyester fringe, poly-ilk- tassels, plastic-coated paper, and sequins. Sixteen components, 60 × 48 in. (152.4 × 121.9 cm) each. Collection of the artist; courtesy Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, and Kate Werble Gallery, New York. Sewed by: Keeley Haftner, Elgee King, Jinn Bronwen Lee, Kate S. Lee, Elizabeth Van Loan, April Martin, Nicole Mauser, Magritte Emanuel Nankin, Carolina Poveda, Darling Shear, Danielle Wordelman

About

The formation of self and the individual’s place in a turbulent society are among the key themes reflected in the work of the artists selected for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. The exhibition includes sixty-three participants, ranging from emerging to well-established individuals and collectives working in painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and video, photography, activism, performance, music, and video game design.

The Whitney Biennial is the longest running survey of contemporary art in the United States, with a history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking lively debate. The 2017 Biennial is the Museum’s seventy-eighth in a continuous series of Annual and Biennial exhibitions initiated by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932. It is the first to be held in the Whitney’s downtown home at 99 Gansevoort Street, and the largest ever in terms of gallery space.

The 2017 Whitney Biennial is co-curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks.

The film program is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Mia Locks, and Aily Nash.

about the 2017 Biennial curators and advisors.

Pope.L is the recipient of the 2017 .

Whitney Biennial 2017 is presented by

Major support is provided by

     

Major support is also provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston and the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Significant support is provided by the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation.

Generous support is provided by 2017 Biennial Committee Co-Chairs: Leslie Bluhm, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Bob Gersh, and Miyoung Lee; 2017 Biennial Committee members: Ashley Leeds and Christopher Harland, Diane and Adam E. Max, Teresa Tsai, Suzanne and Bob Cochran, Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg, Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Kourosh Larizadeh and Luis Pardo, Iris Z. Marden, Artur Melentin, Tracy and Gary Mezzatesta, and Jackson Tang; the Henry Peterson Foundation; and anonymous donors.

Additional support provided by the Austrian Federal Chancellery and Phileas – A Fund for Contemporary Art.

Funding is also provided by special Biennial endowments created by Melva Bucksbaum, Emily Fisher Landau, Leonard A. Lauder, and Fern and Lenard Tessler.

Additional endowment support is provided by The Keith Haring Foundation Exhibition Fund, Donna Perret Rosen and Benjamin M. Rosen, and the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation.

Curatorial research and travel for this exhibition were funded by an endowment established by Rosina Lee Yue and Bert A. Lies, Jr., MD.

New York magazine is the exclusive media sponsor of Whitney Biennial 2017.

“This exhibition makes an exciting, powerful case for art.”

“Presenting a mélange of American perspectives, the biennial succeeds in keeping a finger on the pulse of a divisive and diverse cultural landscape.”

“The 2017 Whitney Biennial is the best of its kind in some time.”

“A must-see exhibition for anyone interested in contemporary art, a snapshot of American creativity and sometimes American culture.”

"A User’s Guide to the Whitney Biennial"

"The Whitney revealed the 63 participants in its sprawling survey of what’s happening now in contemporary art—the new, the influential and the potentially provocative."

"The 2017 Whitney Biennial Will Feature Edgy, Trending Artists in 'Turbulent' Times"

"The Whitney Biennial, inaugurated by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, still stands out as the pre-eminent biennial in this country."





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