TASTE & POWER

Two Thirds of Contemporary Art Officially Boring

Posted in Art by teenagediet on March 6, 2008

I just walked in the door from the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial members preview. If this exhibition is the cultural litmus that it claims to be, well then two thirds of contemporary art is officially boring. See for yourselves. If you want to wait twelve hours in line tomorrow the weather is going to be nice (let’s not even talk about this weekend). But considering that you will only have thirty minutes from the time you get in until closing let me offer you a strategic approach. Skip the top two out of three floors all together.

There are a few exceptions, Phoebe Washburn is up there and she is always naively charming with her science projects, and her efforts here are no different (I used to work for her and we had frequent ping-pong breaks throughout the day). Also Olaf Bruening’s “Home2” is on view on the third or fourth, but if you are pressed for time (you will be) you can just watch it here. The second floor is a great show. It’s not really full of surprises, Karen Kilimnik, Rachel Harrison, and Rita Ackerman are all enjoyable. But you knew that didn’t you? The one that made me jittery with the excitement of a new discovery was the big clunky Jebediah Caesar piece in the middle of the floor. You will know what I am talking about when you see it, but for some reason old ladies feel a very strong inclination to smell this thing.In a hilarious act of total lack of self-awareness the Biennial this year has decided to have a satellite space. Why do I find this so amusing? The satellite space is basically the new I-Phone, in that every gallery owner and art dealer in New York who doesn’t have one or isn’t in the negotiations to get one, has been left feeling as self consciously cheap as the girl who wore the same prom dress two years in a row. Soooooo, if the Biennial wants to prove itself as an accurate account of the times they’ve gotta get one too, right? Well they did, and it’s at the beautiful Park Avenue Armory. In spite of the sheer excess of this gesture it may very well be the saving grace of the exhibition.

Remember back in 2002 when the Biennial was fun, when the curators were like “fuck it, viewing art should be good times great oldies, not a somber occasion”? I mean sure it was a little awkward waiting in lines to see pieces once you were already in but that only added to the Disney World-esque experience. Well over at the Armory viewing art is fun again. The giant castle has been transformed into a haunted mansion. With only a vague map to guide me I wandered from room to room in this giant space finding ephemeral acts of mysticism in dark corners like a feather tied to a record player lightly strumming an amplified guitar. Sure none of this work is really destroying my preconceived notions, but it was fun. Viewing the exhibition transformed into a ghost hunt and it is this kind of experience that I would encourage the Whitney to steer towards.

p.s. really sorry about the lack of images but you know how top secret these guys like to be.