Amerikkkan Art?

The lineup for the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Day for Night was announced yesterday, and already rightwingers are having conniptions. Curated by the Walker's chief curator Philippe Vergne and the Whitney's Chrissie Iles, the exhibition generated this response from the weblog at The New Criterion:
The Whitney Museum of Amerikkkan Art has unveiled its lineup for its 2006 biennial exhibition. And if you thought "political art" was oh-so-thirteen years ago, guess again. Politics as usual is back at the Whitney. And by politics, of course we mean the same left wing politics defined in such a way as to produce the maximum amount of smugness in the "creative community." Think you'd ever see something like the (actually creative) right wing guerilla theatre of say, the editors of The Dartmouth Review in the 1980s? Think again...

But let's not kid ourselves--when the official art world gets involved in politics, official political art, or 'subversion,' or whatever, is what you get.
The biennial is noteworthy for a few reasons, chiefly because it's the first curated by two foreign-born curators: Iles is British, Vergne is French. Also it's the first titled biennial. The subhead Day for Night is derived from Francois Truffaut’s La Nuit américaine, a 1973 film that featured nighttime scenes shot during the day using special filters (it's also the title of a Peter Doig painting, above, featured in the show). This false light seems to be the guiding one for the Bushes, Berlusconis, Putins, and maybe even Saddams out there. Iles says the show “explores the artifice of American culture in what could be described as a pre-Enlightenment moment, in which culture is preoccupied with the irrational, the religious, the dark, the erotic, and the violent, filtered through a sense of flawed beauty. This reflective, restless mood is not unique to the United States; its presence across both America and Europe suggests a shift in the accepted values that have formed the basis of 20th-century Western culture."

Earlier: An interview with Philippe Vergne

(Via Sivacracy, blog of copyright wunderkind and biennial catalogue contributor Siva Vaidhyanathan.)

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