Ilana Harris-Babou

Whitney Biennial 2019

The Whitney Museum in New York has revealed the list for this year’s Whitney Biennial, which aims to offer a wide-ranging view of American art today. Curated by Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta, the show runs from May 17 to September 22.

In a statement, Hockley said this year’s show—the Biennial’s 79th edition—will focus on “the mining of history in order to reimagine the present or future, a profound and sustained consideration of questions of equity along financial, racial, and sexual lines, a concern with climate change, and explorations of the vulnerability of the body.”

As with the 2017 edition, this year’s Whitney Biennial skews young. The 2019 Biennial includes some of today’s most closely watched emerging artists, among them Korakrit Arunanondchai, Elle Pérez, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Martine Syms. Hockley and Panetta have placed them alongside art-world veterans, like the experimental-filmmaking pioneer Barbara Hammer and the late artist James Luna. Also included is Simone Leigh, who won the Guggenheim Museum’s 2018 Hugo Boss Prize.

In typical form for the biennial, the show will include performance and film programming. The performance events will be overseen by Greta Hartenstein, an independent curator, and the film screenings are being organized by Maori Karmael Holmes, Sky Hopinka (who was in the 2017 Whitney Biennial), and Matt Wolf.

Panetta said in a statement that, of the 75 artists and collectives lined up to participate, some 75 percent are under 40. “In part,” she said, “this emphasis resulted from what we saw during our research across the U.S., as we were struck by the profound difficulties of our current moment and the ways in which so many artists we encountered are struggling and facing fewer opportunities to present their work publicly.”

[See the artist list broken down by the numbers.]

Though the 2019 Whitney Biennial is still a little under three months away, it has already generated some controversy. The New York Times reported that in December artist Michael Rakowitz told the curators that he was pulling out of the biennial. His decision not to show at the museum was meant as a protest against Warren B. Kanders, the Whitney’s vice chairman, who owns Safariland, a company that produces tear gas and other products used against asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Last year, nearly 100 Whitney staff members—among them Hockley—signed an open letter asking the Whitney to consider having Kanders resign. A protest led by the group Decolonize This Place followed.)

In January, the activist group W.A.G.E. issued a missive to the Biennial’s participants, calling on them to “demand to be paid for the content they provide and withhold that content until the demands of Whitney staff are met.” W.A.G.E. then issued another open letter last week that said its prior statements applied to future Whitney Biennials as well.

The artist list follows.

Eddie Arroyo
Korakrit Arunanondchai
Olga Balema
Morgan Bassichis
Blitz Bazawule
Alexandra Bell
Brian Belott
Meriem Bennani
Robert Bittenbender
Lucas Blalock
Garrett Bradley
Milano Chow
Colectivo Los Ingrávidos
Thirza Cuthand
John Edmonds
Nicole Eisenman
Janiva Ellis
Kota Ezawa
Brendan Fernandes
FIERCE and Paper Tiger Television
Marcus Fischer
Forensic Architecture
Ellie Ga
Nicholas Galanin
Sofía Gallisá Muriente
Jeffrey Gibson
Todd Gray
Sam Green
Barbara Hammer
Ilana Harris-Babou
Matthew Angelo Harrison
Curran Hatleberg
Madeline Hollander
Iman Issa
Tomashi Jackson
Steffani Jemison
Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, and Jackson Polys
Christine Sun Kim
Josh Kline
Autumn Knight
Carolyn Lazard
Maia Ruth Lee
Simone Leigh
Daniel Lind-Ramos
James Luna
Eric N. Mack
Calvin Marcus
Tiona Nekkia McClodden
Troy Michie
Joe Minter
Keegan Monaghan
Caroline Monnet
Darius Clark Monroe
Ragen Moss
Sahra Motalebi
Marlon Mullen
Jeanette Mundt
Wangechi Mutu
Las Nietas de Nonó (Lydela Nonó and Michel Nonó)
Jenn Nkiru
Laura Ortman
Jennifer Packer
nibia pastrana santiago
Elle Pérez
Pat Phillips
Gala Porras-Kim
Walter Price
Carissa Rodriguez
Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Heji Shin
Diane Simpson
Martine Syms
Kyle Thurman
Mariana Valencia
Agustina Woodgate

May 17, 2019