Currently on show at Whitney Museum through June 1, 2017
This year, the Whitney Biennial highlights the seventy-eighth installment of the longest-running survey of American Art. Some of this years themes are economic inequalities, polarizing politics and racial tensions. The Biennial features sixty-three individuals and collectives whose work takes a wide variety of forms, from painting and installation to activist and video-game design.
Walking onto the fifth and sixth floors of the Whitney, the recurring subjects of violence and technology are strongly present in works by Dana Schutz, ‘Open Casket’, Postcommodity’s ‘A Very Long Line’ and John Kessler, Evolution.
The works were overwhelming from time to time due to the constant onslaught of violence. But, I have to say, the piece that caught my attention and made the Biennial truly interesting for me, was the Virtual Reality (VR) piece by Jordan Wolfson. His “Real Violence” VR was unique as it forced me to watch him (a white male) repeatedly bash another white male's head with a baseball bat. My reaction to VRart, and the helplessness I felt while watching Wolfson's work is what resounded and troubled me. The fact is, I find this situation quite real and applicable to daily life, in that there are instances where I see injustices (social or otherwise) that I feel helpless in; as if I'm watching through from some fourth wall. It's works like this that make me question my own behaviour, and wish that I was less of a spectator amidst our social issues today.
A big thank you to Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, curators of the Whitney Biennial 2017. Specifically, thank you for connecting all artworks under one roof, and forcing us to not passively view the artworks, but to actively engage in conversation on this years predominate themes of violence and technology.