Whitney Biennial 2014 gets three curators

The Whitney Museum of American Art is feeling adventurous again. Its 2014 Whitney Biennial is to be curated by three individuals who have no direct experience with the museum. This continues its tradition for originality, valuing the contributions outsiders can make to its vision.
Three individuals have been chosen to deliver a fresh approach to its survey of contemporary American art, including Stuart Comer, curator of film at Tate Modern in London; Michelle Grabner, professor and chair of the painting and drawing department at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago; and Anthony Elms, associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.
“We chose to make the last biennial in the Breuer building before our move downtown an experiment with a new curatorial structure,” explained Donna De Salvo, chief curator and deputy director for programs at the Whitney.
“By flinging open the museum’s doors metaphorically, we hope to create a platform in which voices from outside the Whitney can enliven the conversation around contemporary art in the United States.”
Mr Comer has recently co-curated the opening season at The Tanks at the Tate Modern, a new and permanent space at the gallery that specialises in performance art.
An expert in film – standalone and in relation to art – he has contributed to various publications, including Art Review, Frieze and Parkett; sits on the board for London Film; and chairs the Derek Award for artists’ film and video.
Alongside her academic responsibilities, Ms Grabner runs the exhibition and project space The Suburban with her husband Brad Kilman, which has showcased works by Ceal Floyer, Nicholas Gambaroff, Lucie Fontaine, Katharina Gross and Luc Tuymans.
“I believe in artists and I believe in the imagination,” she told The Highlight in 2009. “I also happen to delight in and value my mid-western, middle class, middle-age life with a mortgage and three kids. Voila: The Suburban.”
Anthony Elms comes with a raft of experience. He has worked at Performa 11, an internationally acclaimed biennial of new visual art, as well being assistant director at Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois for half a decade.
One of the best attributes going for Mr Elms is that he is an artist himself, which has allowed him to really bring about very focused, engaging and interesting shows, including Can Bigfoot Get You a Beer? and A Unicorn Basking in the Light of Three Glowing Suns (both with Philip von Zweck).
“The idea to have three curators came about after a series of discussions here,” Ms De Salvo told the New York Times. “By slicing the museum up like a layer cake and seeing how it will look collectively, it gives the curators the opportunity to express their own points of view, each on a different floor.”
The Whitney Biennial kicks off in March 2014.
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