Posts Tagged ‘political correctness’

Biennial Thoughts

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

The Whitney Biennial  according to its web site “is an unmissable event for anyone interested in finding out what’s happening in art today. ” That is in art in the USA, and this years show features “seventy-five artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound.”

It’s interesting to look through the list of artists and perhaps explore some of their work on-line, but even where I in New York, I think I might find the whole rather too daunting to contemplate.

My attention was drawn to it by a post on The Online Photographer with the site’s longest ever title:
Open Mike: What Danielle Jackson’s Artnet Review Tells Us About What the Whitney Biennial Tells Us About the Future of Photography—and the Reviewers and Curators and Academicians Who Will Shape the Artists Who Will Shape It

Though it was the content of the post rather than its length that caught my attention. It starts with a short reflection on the idea of ‘political correctness’ and then cites Danielle Jackson’s review as an example “written from the perspective of political correctness about a show that appears to be mainly about political correctness.” I felt I had to go and read it.

Jackson writes she was sent by Artnet with “a brief to consider the photography in the exhibition and left thinking about the power of affiliation.” In a long piece she suggests that the artists “come from nearly every conceivable historically marginalized group” and that they form the new mainstream.

It’s perhaps unsafe to make any conclusions from the installation views and example of work which accompany her post, or from the Whitney web site, but if this is the future then there seems relatively little in it that I find of any great interest.

Michael C Johnston looks at her review in somewhat greater length and I certainly have some sympathy with his views, and in particular with his opinion that “The actual photographs in the show seem to be secondary to the positions they take on various political implications” which appears to be at the base of both the curation and the review of the show.

But perhaps both he and I will be accused of thinking and writing from our own positions of age and race and privilege. And of course I am what I am, though I think I am rather more of an outsider than many of the established artists whose work is featured in the Whitney.