2012 Biennial: Curating the 1993 Biennial

Uploaded by WhitneyFocus on 29.02.2012

I actually did another biennial before this.
This is my second time out.
And the first time was in 1993.
I was new to the Whitney at the time,
and I worked with four other curators
who were on the Whitney staff,
and I was in charge.
And that biennial
stirred up so much response critically,
and mostly, I mean, negative critically.
But it was a huge story that just ripped
across all the newspapers and the media,
much to our surprise
because we never planned it that way.
But it seemed that
since we did go out of our way
to look for people of color,
to represent people--
a lot of them women
who had never been
in a Whitney Biennial before,
that we stirred up a lot of issues
that were and continue to be
central issues in American life.
So that experience
was extremely painful in a way
because no one likes to be
the center of a big media storm,
critical media storm
But, on the other hand,
it showed me, first of all,
that the Museum could stand behind it
and tackle such a controversy.
And then following it could actually,
in many ways,
change its program and its collection
to reflect on what had gone on
in that Biennial.
And I guess personally for me,
what it meant beyond actually being
quite proud of that Biennial was that
it showed me that really, as a curator,
you are...the Museum has really
put their faith in you.
You owe it to them to do something
that takes risks and that is ambitious,
and not just for the sake of that
and of trying to attain media celebrity,
but just because it's something
you are given the responsibility
and the opportunity to do, and so you have
to just seize that opportunity
not miss it.