The Whitney Biennial

Posted in culture on June 17th, 2010 by Bullshit Detector – 4 Comments

Museums are very important for New Yorkers.  We go to museums to be connected to the newest currents of thoughts, and often to find things we’ve never seen before. Every trip to a museum should be a time for wonder and discovery. Unless you go to the biennial at the Whitney, where in my case is a place of disgust and anger. I can’t control it. If art is meant to make you feel something, this is a very successful museum, because it gets me rambunctious.

Being a special exhibition that happens every two years, I imagine that being part of the artistic selection must be quite a deal in the career of an artist. So one would imagine that they show the best of the best. Now, take a closer look at these pieces and tel me if this sounds like a special piece of art to you:

Two strings on the floor: I was admiring some drawings on the wall when a security guard let me know I was overstepping on a piece. “Oh my God! I am so sorry” I said, and started looking around trying to find the art under my feet. The guard then points at a piece of tape, that circles something in the middle of the room. This large square, of about 20×20, protects the artistic piece located at the center. And what is the piece? Two pieces of string, dropped on the floor. I am serious. Two strings, of about three feet each, just dropped in the center of the square.

I looked at the guard surprised, and realize that he is only one of four. There is one guard at every corner of the square, vigilant to the passers who don’t realize this is “art”. These four guys’ job is to stand the whole day, separated 20 feet from each other so they can’t even talk, just to protect two pieces of crappy strings on the floor. I wonder if the art is meant to make you think about the modern types of slavery.

The Old Book: This was another year, and I came upon it right like the previous piece I described. A poor guard, stands all day in a corner, to stop people from stepping on an old beaten book (no visible cover/title to at least give some meaning to it). The book is open in the middle and place face-down on the floor. And that’s the piece. Mister indian immigrant guard (and old by the way) spends his life -probably forced by poverty- protecting a piece of garbage so insignificant that the only way to perceive it is by being warned.

And my favorite of all, the shitty wallpaper (and I am literal about the name). Don’t get me wrong people. I am not an uneducated person incapable of understanding abstract thinking. I know art, I work at a museum myself and to certain degree I am an artist. I design, I paint, I play music and I am very fond of Russian existentialist literature, meaning, I am not a retard. I am aware that art is complicated and that not because I don’t understand it, it means it is bullshit, but this my friends…

So let’s go back to my favorite piece. My husband and I are captivated by how ugly this piece looks. It is an installation and it takes an entire room. There is a guide giving a tour not far away, so we join the group with the hope that this explanation will throw some light into our empty and ignorant heads, so we listen: “The artist graduated from bla bla bla university, and have been in the bla bla bla grant for artists. She graduated with honors and is the student of mister popof and plin plin” (let’s be brief and say that her resume sounded impressive, making you wonder if this is the filter -instead of quality- for the selection). Then he goes on to explain the piece. ” The artist created a wallpaper with the word ‘Whitney’ using complex computer software”. We ask which software and he says “Illustrator” (Adobe, yes, that complex software). “She, herself” -he continues- “designed the wallpaper [not like every other graphic designer] and on top of it, she wrote these three-dimensional words inspired by these videos.” What he means is that she prepared a mix of resins that look like crap (literally, we are talking about shit-looking material) and wrote on the wall the first words that came to her mind while watching old videos (which are also shown on a screen nearby). “She herself selected the videos, and as a response, she wrote the inspired words on the wall.” (With the shit, that is). I don’t remember the words, but they weren’t anything visibly profound.

“Wow!” I should be an artist. It seems easier than my job. If art is meant to get people thinking, this is a great piece. It got me thinking, definitely, about what is art and what is not.  Yes, art is an expression, and so it is to burp as a joke in the middle of a table and that’s not art. Art should not only be an expression of ideas, but also have a minimum of technique and I would add, certain degree of beauty. So this is a message for the Whitney Museum: that’s no art, that’s just bullshit.