On Limits:
Estrangement in the Everyday

May 24–June 11, 2016
The Kitchen, 512 W 19th Street

Opening Reception: Tuesday, May 24, 5–8 pm

On Limits: Estrangement in the Everyday considers the many ways in which artists and artworks address contradictions in day-to-day reality, whether in an explicitly political register or in more subtle, even satirical, modes that acknowledge an uneasy complicity with the dominant order. By examining the ways in which we are estranged from others, the exhibition questions the limits placed on our ability to imagine alternative forms of social organization in the face of catastrophic threats.

Rather than settle narrowly on a coherent theme or single issue, this experimental exhibition expands the perspectives and positions—mediated by more than twenty artworks—presented within the psychic and material space of the gallery, reaching beyond the limits of any one conceptual paradigm, consistent style, contemporary consensus, or clear narrative. This strategy allows particular themes—from social reproduction to queerness or the environment—to be highlighted momentarily in correspondences between artworks that, for example, work with language, or the documentary mode; works that use the form of the advertisement, calling out to the viewer; works that play on presence and absence, or expose techniques of capture or surveillance; works that probe the cultural notion of waste or decay; and still others that survey the body, under siege, at work, on the run, and online.

Under the ideological sway of neoliberalism’s relentless accumulation of capital, which reinforces the divisive status quo, we must think collectively—beyond the limits of thematic, regional, or categorical models—to see connections between exclusionary effects and oppression of all kinds and to produce solidarity through means other than fear.

The exhibition features works by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Francis Alÿs, Hannah Black, Merlin Carpenter, Enrique Chagoya, Kevin Jerome Everson, Claire Fontaine, Harun Farocki, Toril Johannessen, William E. Jones, Barbara Kruger, An-My Lê, William Leavitt, Yolanda López, Tracey Moffatt, Catherine Opie, Claire Pentecost, William Raban, Allan Sekula, Jason Simon, A.L. Steiner, Milica Tomić, and Taocheng Wang.

Catherine Opie (b. 1961), LAPD, 2014. Pigment print, 40 x 53 in. (101.6 x 134.6 cm). Courtesy the artist; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong


The ISP provides a setting within which students pursuing art practice, curatorial work, art historical scholarship, and critical writing engage in ongoing discussions and debates that examine the historical, social, and intellectual conditions of artistic production.

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Please Note:

On Limits: Estrangement in the Everyday takes place at The Kitchen (not the Whitney Museum of American Art) and its hours are: Tuesday–Friday, 12–6 pm; Saturday, 11–6 pm. All events held in conjunction with On Limits will take place at The Kitchen and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Please refer to specific event listings to confirm location.

This exhibition is free and open to the public.


This exhibition is a collaboration between the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and The Kitchen. Curatorial Participants of the ISP are designated as Helena Rubinstein Fellows in recognition of the long standing support of the Helena Rubinstein Foundation. Support for the Independent Study Program is provided by Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa, The Capital Group Charitable Foundation, The New York Community Trust, and the Whitney Contemporaries through their annual Art Party Benefit. Endowment support is provided by Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation and the Helena Rubinstein Foundation.