Whitney Biennial Trend Index (2010)

Where the hell is Hot Tub Time Machine?  Why would a studio spend millions upon millions of dollars whipping the nation into Hot Tub Time Machine fever only to have their marketing campaign peak a week early?  I somewhat had a notion to see this a month ago.  After Liz Lemon actually did go see it last Thursday on 30-Rock, I felt even more validated in indulging some corporately-sanctioned bad taste.  Craig Robinson's revelation, "It must be some kind of hot tub time machine," is the type of self-aware high-concept poesis you almost feel obligated to reward---especially given that the device itself is apparently triggered by the submersion and possible drowning of a squirrel.

Friday, March 19:  ready to go, ready to lay my money down.......Sorry, doesn't open until March 26.  Too bad, nameless executives, by next Friday I will be in line to see another movie about going back in time to the moment I still wanted to see Hot Tub Time Machine. 

Unable to access HTTM, I went to the Whitney Biennial instead (at the Whitney Museum of American Art through May).  Below is my report on various rising and falling trends in the world of contemporary art, as based on an afternoon tour of the 2010 Biennial (and in comparison with the 2008, 2006, and 2004 exhibits). Please note, certain artworks may figure in more than one category. Also note, I have no official qualifications in art criticism, so the following observations should not be taken as a foundation for any future investments in economic, cultural, or symbolic capital.


<<     (decreasing presence)
>>     (increasing presence)
**     (holding steady)
Ø      (apparently absent this year)

(**)  Videos with people yelling at you

(>>)  Drywall/2x4s/Sawdust

(<<)  Rube Goldberg, MFA
(>>)  Videos featuring images of American consumerism made sinister through the use of red filters and brooding industrial music
(**)  "Look what I found!"

(**)  Array of seemingly random objects meticulously arranged to simulate spontaneous, unstudied entropy

(**)  Installations requiring you to follow a chain of text/images around all four walls of room

(>>)  Gruesome photography of "real world" meant to remind you that elite art unfolds in a rarefied parallel universe of impenetrable coding

(ø)  Alan Funt, MFA

(<<)  Artist or serial killer?

(**)  Americans = fat, stupid, war-mongering, badly-dressed, etc.

(**)  Old photographs gathered, assembled, and sequenced to cover gallery wall

(<<)  Room-sized boxes inviting your participation

(<<)  "Is that still part of the exhibit?"/"Did someone accidentally break that?"/"Why didn't s/he finish this piece?"

(**)  Filthy-looking textiles 

(Ø)  Drawings done in the style of an 8-year-old under psychiatric care for sexual abuse

(>>) Spinning holographic JFK heads

(**)  Detached housing as marker of continuing post-war social alienation

(>>)  Modern dance photographed/filmed more or less frontally

(**)  Things considered as or within a grid

(**)  Videos with narration read slowly in signature detached "art" voice

(<<)  Dual side-by-side film/video projection of images that sometimes sync-up but mostly do not

(<<)  Explicit invocations of Freud, et al.

(ø)  Recontextualized pornography

(<<)  References to American popular culture (excluding Michael Jackson)

(>>)  Michael Jackson invoked as emblematic of something

(>>)  Flowers...pretty, pretty flowers

(<<)  Small objects displayed in glass case as cryptic curios

(>>) Physically/mentally/emotionally traumatized individuals as subject matter

(**)  1 canvas, 1 color, new texture

(**)  "Let's fuck shit up!   And film it!"

Best of show: “Detroit” by Ari Marcopoulos.  Video of two teenage boys manipulating feedback through a rack of guitar pedals/fx boxes, reveling in the sheer joy of creating a shifting wall of awesome noise.  Let me be the first to nominate them as the curators for the 2012 biennial.

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