Since its introduction in 1932, the Whitney Biennial—the museum’s signature exhibition and one of the art world’s most highly anticipated events—has kept a firm finger on the pulse of contemporary art across genres from painting, sculpture and installation to film, choreography and music. Of the fifty-one emerging and established artists chosen to participate in the 2012 Biennial, which opens March 1 and will be on view through May 27 (with additional programming continuing through June 10), four SVA faculty and alumni will be featured. Artists create works specifically for the Biennial; the Whitney will release details about the 2012 Biennial projects and a schedule of events in the coming weeks. But here is an overview of the types of work these four artists have built their reputations on.
Photographer and sculptor Sam Lewitt’s (BFA 2004 Fine Arts) preoccupation with text and imaging apparatus compel him to scrutinize the two with juxtapositions resulting in tableaus of its cast-offs. Through images of the innards of letterpress machinery to compositions consisting of reflective surfaces, Lewitt’s work tries to determine the ways in which “…language points up…materiality beyond the vagaries of self-representation.”
Matt Hoyt’s (BFA 2000 Fine Arts) unassuming sculptures that resemble found objects are usually displayed in groupings on shelves. Although the figures look like rocks or broken pottery he might have scavenged on a trail walk, these forms are carefully and meticulously made. Hoyt’s patina-covered materials—melted tape, plastic, resin—suggest a mutability that is reflected in their intimate scale.
Since the early 1990s, Liz Deschenes (faculty member in the MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media Department) has been making work that examines the variable nature of photography. For Deschenes, abstraction seems most interesting when it is revealed through explorations of more antiquated imaging processes like photograms. Her tongue-in-cheek union of the classic and the modern give her images a depth that belies their seeming minimalism.
Performance artist Andrea Fraser (1983 Fine Arts) is most known for risqué and controversial works that turn a critical eye on the business of art and cultural production. “All of my work is about what we want from art, what collectors want, what artists want from collectors, what museum audiences want,” Fraser explained in a 2004 New York Times article about her video Untitled (2003), in which she filmed herself having sex with an unidentified American collector.
For more information and updates about the Whitney Biennial 2012, visit the Whitney’s Web site.