The Whitney Museum of American Art announced that the 2014 Whitney Biennial will take a bold new form with three curators from outside the Museum offering their unique perspectives on the state of contemporary art in the United States. While past Biennials have been organized collectively by multiple curators, for this edition each curator will oversee one floor of the exhibition. The Museum has selected Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner to represent a range of geographic vantages and curatorial methodologies. Whitney curators Elisabeth Sussman and Jay Sanders, who were responsible for the widely praised 2012 Biennial, will act as advisors on the project. The exhibition has come to be regarded as the Museum’s signature survey of contemporary American art; the next Biennial goes on view at the beginning of March 2014. It will be the 77th in the Museum’s ongoing series of Annual and Biennial exhibitions, inaugurated in 1932 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs at the Whitney, noted: “We chose to make the last Biennial in the Breuer building before our move downtown an experiment with a new curatorial structure. By flinging open the Museum’s doors metaphorically, we hope to create a platform in which voices from outside the Whitney can enliven the conversation around contemporary art in the United States. Hailing from Chicago, Philadelphia, and London, each curator will bring a personal approach to the process, creating an exciting mix of emerging and established artists that is the Biennial’s hallmark.”
The list of artists in the exhibition will be released at the end of 2013.
About the Curators
Stuart Comer is Curator: Film at Tate Modern, London. He oversees film and video work for the Tate Collection and Displays, was co-curator for the opening season of The Tanks at Tate Modern, and organizes an extensive program of screenings, performances and events. He has contributed to numerous periodicals, including Artforum, Frieze, Afterall, Mousse, Parkett and Art Review. He is editor of Film and Video Art (Tate Publishing, 2009) and has contributed essays to several publications on artists including Tom Burr, Andrea Fraser, David Lamelas, Sharon Lockhart, Mark Morrisroe, Bik Van Der Pol and Gillian Wearing, among others. Comer was a co-curator of the 2007 Lyon Biennial. Other recent freelance curatorial projects include Andy, as you know I am writing a movie… at Beirut Art Center, The Young and Evil for tank.tv, An American Family at Kunstverein Munich and CASCO, Utrecht; America’s Most Wanted for The Artists’ Cinema at Frieze Art Fair, London; and Double Lunar Trouble at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Comer has participated in symposia, talks and events at numerous international venues. He sits on the board of Film London and has been a member of juries for CPH:DOX 2012, the 2011 Venice Film Festival, the 2006 BFI Sutherland Trophy at The Times BFI 50th London Film Festival, the International Jury for the Oberhausen 52nd International Short Film Festival in 2006, and the inaugural Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize in 2009. He has chaired the Derek Jarman Award for artists’ film and video since its inaugural year in 2008.
Anthony Elms is Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and is also the editor of WhiteWalls, an independent publisher distributed through the University of Chicago Press. Previously he worked for Performa 11 and was Assistant Director at Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago for five years. His writings have appeared in Afterall, Art Asia Pacific, Art Papers, Artforum, Cakewalk, May Revue, Modern Painters, New Art Examiner, and Time Out Chicago, and he has also written essays for numerous catalogs and collections. He has independently curated exhibitions as well, including: Pathways to Unknown Worlds: Sun Ra, El Saturn & Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground, 1954-68 (with John Corbett and Terri Kapsalis); Interstellar Low Ways (with Huey Copeland); Can Bigfoot Get You a Beer?, and A Unicorn Basking in the Light of Three Glowing Suns (both with Philip von Zweck). Elms has also taught visual arts seminars at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received a BFA in painting from Michigan State University and an MFA from the University of Chicago, and he continues to exhibit as an artist. His group exhibition White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart opens on February 6, 2013, at the ICA Philadelphia.
Michelle Grabner is Professor and Chair of the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, as well as a senior critic at Yale University in the Department of Painting and Printmaking. Together with her husband Brad Killam, Grabner founded The Suburban in 1999 and the Poor Farm in 2009. The Suburban is an artist-run project space in Oak Park, Illinois; over the past thirteen years, it has hosted projects by numerous major and emerging artists including Ceal Floyer, Nicholas Gambaroff, Lucie Fontaine, Luc Tuymans, Katharina Gross, Ann Pibal, and Katrin Sigurdardottir. The Poor Farm is a not-for-profit exhibition space in rural Waupaca County, Wisconsin; in 2012-2013, it is exhibiting Tracking the Thrill, a focused selection of Gretchen Bender’s (1951-2004) video works, including the restaging of the video performance Total Recall. Grabner is also a corresponding editor for X-TRA, a quarterly art journal published in Los Angeles since 1997. Her writing has been published in Artforum, Modern Painters, Frieze, X-tra, Art Press, and Art-Agenda among others. The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland is organizing and hosting a traveling survey exhibition of Grabner’s work that will open in the fall of 2013. In January 2013 she opens exhibitions at Shane Campbell Gallery’s three Chicago locations. Her work is included in such public collections as the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MUDAM – Musée d’Art Moderne Luxembourg; Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; Daimler Contemporary, Berlin; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC.
“Whitney Museum Announces Biennial Plans”
–The New York Times