ROTFL at the Whitney Biennial

The funniest thing I read all year was a description of a piece of art at the Whitney Biennial that I saw this week. I don’t think it was intended that way.

The piece of art in question was Cameron Crawford’s Sick Sic Six Sic ((Not)Moving): Seagullsssssssssssssssssssssssssss:

You could describe it as maybe a minimalist volleyball net, made of thread and plastic and framed by unfinished wood, but titled like a prog rock song from the 1970s. Are we still giving things titles like this? Is he channeling Fiona Apple? Did his keyboard get stuck? The blurb accompanying the work did not answer these questions. Luckily the description is online at the Whitney’s web site:

Oh. Let me see if I’ve got the stages right: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Using Homophones, Exhibiting at the Whitney Biennial. Homophones are nonsensical and fun, but an art museum can’t say they’re nonsensical and fun, so they say they “skirt the edge of comprehension.”

More significantly, this annotation weakens the piece, because it lets you know that the work needs “explaining” in order to be understood. It tells you that it’s supposed to be a performance, not a sculpture. It’s a response to death. The writing does the work that the art should have done. Come on – let the thing fail on its own terms!

This is a genius spin. next year I’m submitting an “invisible painting in an invisible frame” – that way it will always be relevant to any theme!

Another hilarious move! I wish, though, that the artist would have fully committed to the gag, a la Dali or Duchamp, and not let the work be displayed or reviewed until always six years in the future. Then it would seem more like a real idea and a lot less like a bullshit one, right?

There you go! “By imposing this ridiculous date and title, Crawford is suggesting that the work possibly has no good ideas in it. We agreed, which is why we included it in this exhibit. Now it at least appears to have some kind of meaning.”

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