The Whitney Announces Curators for 2017 Biennial

Whitney Biennial 2017

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The Whitney Museum of American Art announced that the 2017 Whitney Biennial will be co-curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks. This will be the seventy-eighth in the Museum’s series of Annual and Biennial exhibitions inaugurated in 1932 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The Museum’s signature survey of contemporary art in the United States, the Biennial goes on view in spring 2017. It will be the first Biennial presented in the Whitney’s new building in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. The 2017 Whitney Biennial is presented by Tiffany & Co, lead sponsor of the Biennial through 2021.

Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, said, “With the opening of the new building, we're rededicating ourselves to the Whitney's longstanding commitment to emerging artists. Chris's keen eye has been critical to this renewed focus in our program, which just launched with his presentations of Jared Madere, Rachel Rose, and New Theater. Mia's interest in both historical figures and new tendencies, as well her years on the West Coast will add important perspective to the Biennial. The two of them have great intellectual chemistry, and it's exciting to see the first Biennial in our new home in the hands of such talented young curators.”

The Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director Adam D. Weinberg noted: “Every Whitney Biennial is a galvanizing process for the Museum, a tradition that goes back to the institution’s roots while retaining its freshness and immediacy. Endeavoring to gauge the state of art in America today, the Biennial demands curators who are attuned to the art of the current moment and there is no question that Chris Lew and Mia Locks have their fingers on the pulse. The expanded spaces and possibilities offered by our new downtown building will make this Biennial particularly lively and groundbreaking.”

Scott Rothkopf will lead a team of advisors who will work closely with the curators to help shape the exhibition. They include: Negar Azimi, writer and senior editor at Bidoun, an award-winning publishing, curatorial, and educational initiative with a focus on the Middle East and its diasporas; Gean Moreno, artistic director of Cannonball, a Miami–based nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of critical discourse and contemporary art through residencies, grants, commissions, and public programs; Aily Nash, co-curator of Projections, the New York Film Festival’s artists' film and video section, and co-curator of the 2017 Whitney Biennial film program; and Wendy Yao, a publisher and founder of both the exhibition space 356 South Mission Road and Ooga Booga, a shop with two Los Angeles locations that specializes in independent books, music, art, and clothing.

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About the Curators

Christopher Y. Lew is the Nancy and Fred Poses Associate Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where he has organized the first US solo exhibitions for Rachel Rose and Jared Madere. He has also organized, with Curator and Curator of Performance Jay Sanders, the first US theatrical presentation by New Theater. His other exhibitions at the Whitney include Sophia Al-Maria: Black Friday (2016); Open Plan: Lucy Dodd (2016); and the group show Mirror Cells (2016), co-organized with associate curator Jane Panetta. Prior to joining the Whitney in 2014, he organized numerous exhibitions at MoMA PS1, including Clifford Owens: Anthology (2011); New Pictures of Common Objects (2012); Jack Smith: Normal Love (2013); Taster's Choice (2014); GCC: Achievements in Retrospective (2014), and James Ferraro: 100% (2014). 

Mia Locks is an independent curator based in New York. Previously, at MoMA PS1, she organized exhibitions including Math Bass: Off the Clock (2015); IM Heung-soon: Reincarnation (2015); Samara Golden: The Flat Side of the Knife (2014); and The Little Things Could Be Dearer (2014). She was part of the curatorial team for Greater New York (2015), with Douglas Crimp, Peter Eleey, and Thomas J. Lax. Prior to MoMA PS1, Locks organized Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 (2011), with David Frantz, at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives as part of the Getty’s inaugural Pacific Standard Time initiative.