The Whitney Biennial 2012—Caution: Dead End

America's big art show trades the real world for conceptual clutter

Other artists, though, prove exceptions to the rule of diminishing conceptual and aesthetic returns. Consider folks including Liz Deschenes (impeccably realized if dry photograms), Jutta Koether (handsome paintings as critiques of the medium), Vincent Fecteau (elaborately realized gypsum sculptures), Andrew Masullo (brightly balanced abstractions), LaToya Ruby Frazier (prints documenting the collapse of her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania), and Wu Tsang (an installation and film starring immigrant transsexuals).

An eerie exception: Wu Tsang goes to the tranny bar.
© Wu Tsang, courtesy the artist
An eerie exception: Wu Tsang goes to the tranny bar.


Whitney Biennial 2012
The Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue
Through May 27

Unlike the remaining artists in the show and all advertisers, their work does not rely on marginal differences to conceal basic similarities—they get by on a whole lot more than vibe. This is especially true of Tsang's installation: A genuinely eerie re-creation of a "green room" in a tranny bar, it includes revealing interviews with the performers. The sole Biennial artist to participate in the much better, more original, and thoroughly political New Museum triennial 80 blocks south, his authentic weirdness vibrates with real life—the kind capable of transforming lived nighttime ideas and experiences into substantial, relevant art for our times.

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