Field trip to the Whitney Biennial, March 21, 2012

On the second day of spring, the art ready students, along with a few of their mentors, visited the Whitney Biennial to be given a tour by the by high-school docents in the Youth Insights program. The Biennial is an exhibit that happens every two years at the Whitney Museum, that shows the “current state of contemporary art in America.” After the students were given a synopsis of the Biennial’s history, they moved on to observe a multitude of captivating pieces.

One difference of this Biennial compared to past ones, according to the high-school student guides, is that it is focused on more time-based art such as video and performance. One artist, Dawn Kasper, is currently part of a “Nomadic studio” experiment; in other words, Kasper’s studio is set up at the Biennial. Kasper says, “My time in process is very much an important part of my performance work, as is revealing that process publicly.” It was new and intriguing to see an actual studio set up publicly; usually studios and the “process” of creating art are overshadowed by the art itself. With Kasper’s public studio the process is appreciated and looked at as part of art.

The Biennial also had a piece to which the students felt a sense of ambivalence. The piece is titled “LAST SPRING: A Prequel,” by Gisèle Vienne along with Dennis Cooper, Stephen O’Malley, and Peter Rehberg. At first glance, the piece seems to be of an odd teenage boy moving his puppet; however, the artists’ intentions were to illustrate “Dark fantasies and primordial urges lurking beneath the surface of day-to-day life.”

We ended with a discussion centered around the definition of contemporary art. The Biennial created a different atmosphere than found in most museums. Before visiting the Biennial I had a preconceived notion that all contemporary art in museums is essentially the same: pristine and not very emotional. There were works in the Biennial that made me afraid and others that had me in a state of relaxation. After the trip I gained a completely new perspective on both contemporary art and museums in general.

– Post by Dayalin, Exploring the Arts intern

A group shot of the Art Ready students outside of the Whitney, with mentors Marci MacGuffie and Michael Paul Britto.

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