Why Did a Mostly Black Queer Collective Remove Their Work from the Whitney Biennial?

Comments

1
No first world problem in the history of first world problems has ever been as much of a first world problem as this. I'll take Neurotic Bullshit for 800 Alex.
2
"Whose art world is it? Who's included in art and who's not? Who pays a higher price to get in? What kind of work is promoted while other work is ignored?"

I don't know these questions are at least as dull a subject for art as 'authorship' is if you ask me.

I have many times said that good propaganda is terrible art and good art can never be good propaganda. I've yet to encounter an exception to this rule. Didactic art is pretty much universally mono-dimensional crap regardless of (or maybe because of) the 'urgent issues' it deals with.

3
TLDR: Art is hard
4
Now is a good time to remember that Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne are examples of prominent african american artists.
5
Yam?
6
Jen, I want to thank you for this article. I don't really understand how Donelle Woolford could pass even the most basic test of whether it was a useful piece, excepting perhaps to show that only in white men's heads to black women have it this easy.
7
I was at the Whitney Biennial and saw the "Donelle Woolford" piece. It's basically a dick joke. It's a painting, but text is the central focus, and it tells a joke about how some dude's dick is so long that he can walk across it to enter the window of his lover's apartment in the next building over. But he can't get back! Har.Har. The fact that THIS is what this old white male artist imagines a young black female artist would make work about is pretty damned incriminating. Oh, and the film by the"Yam" collective is gorgeous and surprising and pretty much the opposite of propaganda. I'm so excited it's coming to Seattle.
8
@2 - If you want to see some good didactic art, check out the work of Martha Rosler, Harun Farocki, Alfredo Jaar, Krzystof Wodiczko, Sharon Hayes, Jill Magid, Walid Raad, Amar Kanwar, Jenny Holzer and Adrian Piper. I would say, though, that while all this stuff is pretty didactic, very little of it could work well as propaganda - it's too poetic for that.

@7 - That 'Woolford' dick-joke piece is essentially a painting in the style of Richard Prince; I don't know if it's a copy of an actual Prince work or just a very close imitation, but it's definitely all in reference to Prince. My sense of it is: Prince is a white, male, American artist whose work emerges very much from that particular position (in a way that I find really compelling, personally), and then the 'Woolford' piece is a white, male artist hiring a young, black woman to make work in the style of an established, white, male artist. It's the sort of thing that should be interesting in theory, but in practice is just kind of a waste of time.
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#8 Yeah I am familiar with some of those names. Jenny Holzer lost me long ago on account of leaning way too much in the didactic direction. Not sure how Walid Raad would be considered didactic. Work that I have seen by him is usually about documenting certain events, not passing moral judgements on them. I think by 'poetic' you might mean something like I would term 'ambiguous'. I think great art always contains and reflects the ambiguity of the world. This is the opposite of didacticism more or less, which is all about clobbering you over the head with its moral authority and communicating a (usually simplistic) message.
10
Everybody's a critic.

Anyway, the Woolford thing seems like it might actually be interesting if it involved multiple actors of different backgrounds all variously taking the role of the artist, somwwhat Rashoman style (but without actually arguing with each other), to really explore how the perception of the artist alters the art.

Instead, it's just become another black-and-white issue.
11
Meanwhile, if an artists talks about CLASS they are destroyed and never heard from again. Talk about race, though, and the money pours in.
12
The Monkees of painting.
13
Seems like Donelle's art is calling out the self-important gender identification of Yams. Would be great to see these two acts curated in the same exhibit. Oh wait.
14
This is a good review. Thanks, Jen. Just because Scanlan recast old oppressive ideas (e.g., enjoying the Otherness) in fancy PoMo terms like "essential subjectivist authenticity" doesn't make his project any less stupid and odious.
15
This shit by Joe Scanlan is pathological. It's sick.
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Can't post HTML as guest so can't include link here but the arts section of
The NYT reporting on the YAM withdrawal today Saturday 5/17/14.