Creative Global Network for the Visual Arts

Snippets from recently published critiques of the 2008 Whitney Biennial, without context and attribution, and listed in no particular order. Is it collage? Is it lyric poetry? Is it the meta-? Is it just minor? Nunnayourbiz.

mildly unhappy and restlessly alert
an unglamorous, even prosaic affair
a new, gray mood among younger artists
a fraternal, anarchic gathering
uncharismatic surfaces, complicated back stories
a decline in producer confidence
work that seems to be in a transitional, questioning mode
things half-finished or things falling apart
a boho biennial ... a neo-hippy ethos
conventionally anti-conventional, like most of the world’s biennials
art as conversation rather than as statement, testing this, trying that
willfully half-baked
self-consciously scrappy, ephemeral, loose-at-the-edges art
two decades of academic postmodernizing have trailed off into embarrassed silence
Janson’s History of Conceptual Art meets Home Depot
heedless of traditional beauty
a key stage in the “dark night of the soul,” preceding redemption
formally cohesive but ... a bit grim
the prevailing mood ... is of casual idealism
the attraction of abjection
dissipatedness and ephemerality
tentative and half-done
confused feelings are a problem only if you insist on making them one
questions asked, not answered
embraces failure ... humorously and solipsistically
truth that is and is not true
a philosophy of “lessness”
a stranger who has forgotten his name and importunes you, on the off chance that you know it
a stony refusal to believe that we ever know what we see
a burbling, flimsy abundance of collaborative and participatory activities
wryly self-aware neo-hippie outlook
unabashed about the importance of social networks
leftovers from a really good party
a far cry from the expected debauchery
a tremendous sense of displacement and loss
the embrace of locality is part of the work
the suddenly exact middle of nowhere
safe enough to ignore
nonconfrontational, blissy, very much about art practice
arrant egos, frustrated reputations, political intrigue, curatorial missteps and temporary fame
the reuse and transformation of discarded parts and found images
increasing interest in artisanal production
the mundane fancies itself novel
an unexpectedly promising start—with the stakes low, the rules open
can’t stand up for falling down
quintessentially American get-up-and-go, evident in the do-it-yourself strain of contemporary art
a crowded, noisy, frantic experience, full of construction and deconstruction, collapsing structures and structures only half-built
the inchoate longings of a younger generation, unwilling to commit to meaning
sense of belatedness, of coming in the door as the party's petering out
the blandest Biennial in memory and, in its own dithering way, the happiest
an effort to keep reality at least an arm's length away
prevalent trends of dystopic video art and sculptural installation
significant dead zones to traverse
the easy gratifications of spectacle have replaced the rigors of engagement
all about healing, and the best therapy appears to be art itself
an unmistakable art-school feel
rickety installations, the requisite array of dark rooms, droning voices, pseudo-zoological environments and more videos than any reasonable person should experience in a lifetime
may disappoint even some of its most loyal fans
material sensuality is suspect, and avoided
nothing more than slightly irritating
an unfinished air of expectation

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