Administrator’s note: Liana Cohen-Matteini posts on the controversial 1993 Whitney Biennial and continues our line of inquiry concerning mythologies and identity..
The Mythology of Difference: Vulgar Identity Politics at the Whitney Biennial by Charles A. Wright, Jr. discusses the major issue of “whiteness” and also its relationship to American culture and identity. The way in which artists represent their racial culture, versus the way the museum represents the same culture through curatorial censorship is a major discussion. How do artists represent their work? Can I only speak for “white women” in my work because that is what I am? How do the museums as an institution and the curators as individuals reflect or suppress certain artists and artworks? These issues of diversity have been harshly critiqued in the [‘93] Whitney Biennial.
The way in which one defines the concept of these cultures is key, because it is the backbone of how one approaches the issue of racial identity in art. Race, gender and sexual preference are traits that must be incorporated into art (either consciously or subconsciously). The concept of “whiteness” is a controversial subject, making the way in which the museum addresses it even more sensitive. How is it even possible to come anywhere close to evaluating the issue in its full complexity? The museum must adjust the issue to its convenience, leaving much room for politics regarding the issue.
Reading for 4 April: Chapter 20: Authenticity, Reflexivity, and Spectacle: or, the Rise of New Asia is not the End of the World by Lee Weng Choy.