The biennial everyone loves to hate has announced its list of artists to be praised, loathed, celebrated, scorned, ignored and vaulted into extreme scrutiny. The co-curators this year are Chrissie Iles, curator at the Whitney, and Philippe Vergne, senior curator at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Like two years ago, this biennial includes a healthy cross generational theme with old timers like Richard Serra and Ed Paschke (who sadly died last year) sharing space with younger artists like Matthew Day Jackson and Kelley Walker. However, the overall roster seems to be balanced more to the mid-career artist than the fresh MFA student. The co-curators indicated that art fairs and Chelsea, not to mention the last PS 1 youth celebration “Greater New York”, seem to do fine representing the fresh faces.
The major distinction for this years Whitney Biennial is a title for the first time (Day for Night) and the inclusion of European artists. “Europe and America have been in bed together for so long that to separate them would be very artificial”, claims Mr. Vergne. While this may be so, the provision of including only Americans has been about the only thing that distinguished this Biennial from over 200 others in the world. Or, perhaps a European look at the American Psyche will be a welcome jolt into what the curators are calling a “dark moment” in contemporary culture. A forboding moment is certainly coming… Biennials can always do that.
The Whitney Museum of American Art.
“The 2006 Biennial” is on view March 2 – May 28, 2006.