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Sunday, May 26, 2024

There is a Whitney Biennial with no heroes or villains.

Arts and EntertainmentThere is a Whitney Biennial with no heroes or villains.

Can you tell a story with no heroes or villains? In this edition, you won't find the bold assertions, the grand gestures, the finger pointing that typically make headlines. The soft materials are at odds with the firm frames. The film hangs from an aluminum apparatus and the sheets take in light slowly over the show. The answer seems obvious: today's realities are at odds with the strictures of daily life. This fact is repeated in an installation by Carmen Winant titled The Last Safe Abortion (2023), a grid of photographs documenting daily tasks of laborers in abortion clinics. The photographs were taken when Wade was still the victor and now feel like a tragic time capsule. In the neon sign that reads "we must stop imagining destruction", there is an explicit mention of bodily inhospitality. Marsha P. Johnson was an activist who spoke out against assaults on Black and trans bodies. You'll most likely feel more called in than called out, but for the most part. If you sat in a folding chair in front of the video of Los Angeles elders, you would feel like you were in a group discussion about aging and sexuality. The white Philadelphia-based patron assembled one of the first US collections of works from the Continent. The works are not trying to be divisive, but capturing the collection's crucial influence on the artists of the Harlem Renaissance. These artists are exhausted by the partisan and corrosive discourse that often plague today's discourse, made partisan and corrosive by the argument machine that is social media. The majority of the show's critics have complained about the lack of assertiveness. The show is called "tepid", "bland", and "low-risk, visually polite" by various white men whose names start with the letter J. The show has three works, two of which are jabs at Winant.

The strongest voice in favor of a softer approach comes from within the exhibition: in the Hayes video, a queer elder who came out as lesbian at age68 is asked how her relationship to activism has changed as she has aged. She told the story of being pushed to the bottom of a riot pile while protesting. She says that it was a privilege to stick her neck out like that, but now she is more fragile. Artists from marginalized groups will not be asked to make their trauma legible so that others will learn. Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio's Paloma Blanca Deja Volar / White Dove Let Us Fly is a moving installation. The label refers to the amber as a kind of archive and does not refer to the more specific amber associations the artist has named in past works. The scar, where the earth subsumes refuse the way Aparicio's amber does, became a dumping ground during the Salvadoran civil war. Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio is the author of Paloma Blanca Deja Volar.

Good narration makes a difference, and yet, words will always fail when it comes to describing artworks speaking a more material language. The show's main theme is a material problem, and it shows why at the subatomic level. Our understanding of the material universe is wrong, as the artist explains in a soundtrack. If you divide a hologram in half, you don't get half an image, but you do get two. The track concludes, "Love is hologram, the more you give away, the more you have." The artist wanted to make a video that was accessible to their disabled community, and that was the reason behind the project. The bass is 100 hertz and there is no image. If you don't have to think about access, you might miss it.

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