The foreclosure of houses was another dominant issue in recent two years. It seems that is why the curators put Maureen Gallace and James Casabere into the Whitney Biennial 2010:
Ms. Gallace does small-size paintings of New-England houses in a Hopper style. There are no doors or windows. She has been painting in this style for more than 17 years now. Some consider these works as decorative gift shop paintings, other see references to Minimal art in them (she did also a series on Marfa, TX). Honestly, I don’t really see the relevance for this kind of painting today.
James Casabere has been making photographs from strangely illuminated cardboard suburbs for years now. I like the anonymous menace in his photos of fake neighborhoods.
It is to welcome that, in this biennial, there are more female artists, than in any other Whitney biennial before. The works however, are not explicit feministic. The curators say, ‘these artists simply happened to be women.’
There were also two video works, I really liked:
Jesse Aaron Green’s video ‘Ärztliche Zimmergymnsatik (Medicalized Indoor Gymnastics)’. The title is taken from a book by the German physician Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber of 1858. A number of male actors perform the 45 gymnastic exercises on small Minimal-style wood platforms. An invisible off-speaker reads Dr. Schreber’s text about ‘maintaining the health and vigor of body and mind’. The setting of the actors and evokes references to Minimal and Conceptual art.
Marianne Vitale’s video ‘Patron’ of 2009 is also about authoritarian tendencies. She orders the audience to follow her more and more abusive or surreal commands, like ‘Spit at the ceiling above you’.
I think these two video works are great pieces about all too rigid or authoritarian life concepts.
In these current times of uncertainty, the curators also seem to focus on beauty and artistic mastership:
Tauba Auerbach does clever conceptual paintings, which fake to be op-art.
Leslie Vance creates small abstract paintings in dark colors. As a starting point, she uses photos of still lifes. Then, she develops her abstractions from that point on. They are very beautiful.
Roland Flexner makes even smaller abstract drawings in an elaborate Japanese Sumi ink technique. I enjoy finding such treasures in this biennial. In the setting of a large-scale art fair works like that easily would be overlooked.
This is a calm biennial. It is limited to the Whitney’s own museum space only. There is no spectacle. Instead, it focuses in many pieces on the subjectivity of the artist and the world around him. I like that.
Whitney Biennial ‘2010’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Through 30 May 2010