With the opening of the 2012 Whitney Biennial just days away, the exhibition–which just about no one has yet seen–has become a target for protest and parody. Occupy Wall Street’s Arts & Labor group has called for the end of the show in 2014, which it argues:
“…perpetuates the myth that art functions like other professional careers and that selection and participation in the exhibition, for which artists themselves are not compensated, will secure a sustainable vocation. This fallacy encourages many young artists to incur debt from which they will never be free and supports a culture industry and financial and cultural institutions that profit from their labors and financial servitude.”
The full letter chastises the Whitney for accepting sponsorship money for the biennial from Sotheby’s, which locked out its unionized workers last year.
Meanwhile, a press release that at first appeared to be from the Whitney landed in our inbox this morning stating that the museum had returned sponsorship money from Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank. The release linked to the website www.whitney2012.org, which has a few hints that it is not an approved Whitney site (though it looks almost identical to the museum’s real site), like the fact that patron Emily Fisher Landau is identified as an “Indian-naming cat lover.” The Whitney confirmed it didn’t send the email.
The exhibition opens March 1.