2019 Whitney Biennial - Feature

The 2019 Whitney Biennial – A Review

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Walking through the 2019 Whitney Biennial is like a greatest hits album, some works are just better than others.

Those yearning for “a-split-me-open, turn-me-inside-out, take-me-outside-the-box experience” will not find it overall. But in each room within the four gallery halls, viewers will be pleasantly surprised, encountering pieces that will resonate with them and speak to their America and their world.

This exhibit works exactly in counterpose to one we reviewed just months ago, where that event seemed ego-driven and market-oriented. Here, the Biennial’s 75 artists are exploring past and present, symbolism and realism, body and spirit, equality and justice.

This well-curated event feels real, more arts and craftsy, less arch and poppy. Here, you encounter (like the organizers previously stated) a dialogue, not only between the viewer and the various multi-media works, but between the artists themselves.

Those looking to be provoked, like in previous years, will not need to raise their protest signs. This American-focused showcase is more about communication, learning, contemplation, and a cry for unity as we all look for answers during times of change and uncertainty. The most shocking thing about the exhibit is that everything seems so hands-on, thoughtful and pure.

At one point we heard a person shout out to a museum official: “You have a winning show here.” Winning, absolutely. Groundbreaking, hopefully in two years’ time.

Below, are some of our favorite pieces and Media Day moments.

The Whitney Biennial, now in its 79th iteration, runs from May 17th to September 22nd.

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Nicole Eisenman; Procession. 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Nicole Eisenman; Procession. 2019

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20190513©DayWhitneyBienniall7580.jpgMedia Day

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Ragen Moss, 2018

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.IIana Harris-Babou; Reparation Hardware. 2018

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Martine Syms; People who aren’t Friends or Lovers or Exes. 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Tomashi Jackson; Third Party Transfer and the Making of Central Park. 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Media Day – Viewer Snapping Photo of Todd Gray’s Euclidean Gris Gris (2), 2018

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Todd Gray; Pax 3. 2017

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Daniel Lind-Ramos; Centinelas. 2013

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Gala Porras-Kim; La Mojarra Stela and its shapes. 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Media Day

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Jeffrey Gibson; Stand Your Ground. 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Elle Perez; Dahlia and David (fag with a scar that says dyke). 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Calvin Marcus; Ghost of Younger Self. 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Media Day

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Simone Leigh; Stick. 2019

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Heiji Shin; “Baby” photographs

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Orpheus floats await the riding membership in the convention center.Brendan Fernandes; The Master and Form. 2018/19

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Jeff Day, an independent photographer based in New York City, documents city life celebrations and the renewal of historical tradition in contemporary voice in the streets. He is completing two books, New Orleans Black and White and New York Street.  A lifelong sailor, Jeff has also documented the water’s edge and shore towns of New York, New England, the Gulf Coast, and Eastern Spain.

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To see more of Jeff’s work, click here.

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All copyrighted photos courtesy of Jeff Day.