What does a midcareer retrospective mean for an artist, and how is a career defined? This roundtable takes up these questions on the occasion of Glenn Ligon’s midcareer exhibition. The Whitney has long supported living artists at key moments in their careers, and the Museum is unique in the number of midcareer exhibitions it features. Moreover, the Whitney has featured Ligon’s work in numerous exhibitions since the early 1990s, and has amassed the largest institutional holdings of his art. Ligon is joined by exhibition curator Scott Rothkopf and art historian Huey Copeland for a dialogue on the joys, fears, and implications of a midcareer show.
Glenn Ligon‘s latest video piece, The Death of Tom (2008), offers an abstractionist recreation of the final scene in Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 silent movie Uncle Tom’s Cabin, based on the novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Ligon asked experimental jazz musician, pianist, and composer Jason Moran to create a soundtrack for this piece, playing to changes in light on the screen. The film and live, improvised performance are followed by a conversation between Ligon and Moran, moderated by Terrance McKnight.