Sunday, March 12, 2006

culture is a gene pool

I was thrilled to realize my upcoming trip back to New York will coincide perfectly with the Whitney Biennial. The latest edition of Artkrush has an interview with Philippe Vergne, curator along with Chrissie Iles of this year's exhibit.

AK: You certainly don't shy away from politics. Mark di Suvero and Rirkrit Tiravanija's Peace Tower — one of the first works we see when entering the museum — includes nearly 200 artists making antiwar statements; the Wrong Gallery's Down by Law installation presents 54 artworks, from Andres Serrano's Piss Christ to Andy Warhol's Birmingham Race Riot, which explore the myth of the American outlaw; and you display an iconic figurative work by Richard Serra that depicts a hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner with the slogan "STOP BUSH." What was your motivation for weaving these issues into the exhibition?

PV: It's very simple. Our motivation was to echo what we experienced in studios and conversations with artists. It would have been untrue to the project to camouflage the deep anger currently felt among the art community. And this anger is shared. This anger has very little voice in mainstream media so it was our duty to give it a platform — to raise questions and to allow artists and the audience to use the museum as a loudspeaker, if they wish to.

Art is ultimately about subversion — though we might have a tendency to forget about it as we get "industrialized." Our motivation was to raise awareness, with the belief that art can make a difference, viewer by viewer. If we did not believe in such an idea, we would be, at this moment in history, very cynical.