by niki schur-narula
Ever since this site came into being, the internet has been buzzing with the news of the Whitney breaking its ties with Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank for the 2012 Biennial. I, myself, was stoked as hell to see such an established cultural institution casting big bills aside for the sake of being good. Alas, it was a prank. We should’ve known. But, I thought, maybe – just maybe – there was one big name in the art world that would be willing to take a stand on issues like the Sotheby’s lockout of 43 employees (since around August of last year). Arts & Labor wrote in their petition letter that:
“We object to the biennial in its current form because it upholds a system that benefits collectors, trustees, and corporations at the expense of art workers. The biennial perpetuates the myth that art functions like other professional careers and that selection and participation in the exhibition, for which artists themselves are not compensated, will secure a sustainable vocation. This fallacy encourages many young artists to incur debt from which they will never be free and supports a culture industry and financial and cultural institutions that profit from their labors and financial servitude.”
This is true. And while the show has in the past catapulted many people to artstardom, most of the artists showcased will still be struggling.
There is a sizeable movement against the Biennial and calls exist to have the annual event ended in 2014, when the tradition will reach its centennial. Regardless of your (or the museum’s) stance on what is fair (or reasonable), I really suggest you go to the show, which opens in just 3 days. Disagreeing with a business’ politics is one thing, but denying the artists an opportunity to showcase their work is something different altogether.
The artists made the work. So, at least for this year, go see the show.
Here’s a little video from the Whitney’s website to whet your appetites (or ruffle your feathers):Tweet