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The 1993 Whitney Biennial: Artwork, Framework, Reception

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This article examines the 1993 Whitney Biennial, its focus on identity politics, and the exhibition’s position within the methodological debates between Art History and an interdisciplinary Cultural Studies. It identifies where and how the voice of the exhibition came to be defined and observes the relations between the institutional framework, the curatorial agenda, and what the art itself performed. With emphasis on the artworks of Andrea Fraser, RenĂ©e Green, and Daniel J. Martinez, I argue that contemporaneous critical reception missed the Biennial’s art historical contribution, which highlighted artists synthesizing historically incompatible modes of practice, and bringing identity politics to bear on institutional critique and conceptual art.
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Keywords: Whitney Biennial; conceptualism; curating and cultural studies; identity politics; institutional critique; multiculturalism; political art

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: California State University

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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