Ramping Up


The other evening, the Tishman Auditorium at the New School was packed with art professionals, museum mucky-mucks, and students, as seven speakers, or gatekeepers, took the stage. Moderator Tim Griffin, editor of Artforum, introduced them one by one—all former or current curators of a show that has been called “impossible”: the Whitney Biennial. First, Marcia Tucker talked about looking for art in 1969 “that wasn’t made by straight white guys in New York.” Next came Elisabeth Sussman, whose visionary 1993 political exhibition was totally and wrongly dismissed at the time. Klaus Kertess addressed a generation of artists in 1995 who “were taking advantage of the fact that there was no Modernism anymore.” Louise Neri eloquently described the “fictional worlds” theme of the 1997 biennial. Finally, Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne, curators of this year’s model, refreshingly said they were forgoing “Top 10 lists” and just “doing a show, not a biennial.” After Iles passionately asserted that “art can make a difference,” Vergne ended the evening by saying, “I’m a virgin to the process. I hope it won’t hurt but I look forward to a lot of pleasure.” That’s something I think we can all agree on; too bad no one asked the question on every young artist’s mind: “How do I get into one of these things?”

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