The Must Sees at the 2022 Whitney Biennial

The “Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept” opens to the public tomorrow, April 6. We’ve picked out a few favorites.

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It’s tough to know what to prioritize when visiting the Whitney Museum, and the museum’s 80th biennial, “Quiet as It’s Kept,” is no exception. Many will make a point of visiting all of the works, but some people like to be a bit curatorial in their browsing of the Whitney’s halls. Here are a few of my personal picks to keep an eye out for at this year’s exhibition, curated by David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. The biennial runs from April 6 to September 5, 2022, so there is plenty of time to visit once if not several times.

Tony Cokes

  • Floors 1 and 6

Rhode Island-based Tony Cokes is no stranger to large exhibitions, being a bit of an art star. His video installations are famous for combining mass culture, ideology, and the Black experience. For the works showing here he features video of Judith Butler, the Sex Pistols’ John Lydon, Representative John Lewis, and the 2019 police killing of twenty-three year old Elijah McClain. Exploring America for all it is, Cokes continues to impress.

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Tony Cokes, still from HS LST WRDZ, 2021. HD video, color, sound; 2:30 min.

Rindon Johnson

  • Floor 5

Berlin-based artist Rindon Johnson explores Black American experience as a byproduct of colonial capitalist accumulation, using weather-worn leather to explore degradation and subtle change over time. A time-intensive work that parallels the wear of time itself.

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Rindon Johnson, An island is all surrounded by water In the morning foreboding Quickly solved by dripping A shower, you know A slow crawl to the park Wait first meat A coffee A hill A roundabout A breeze on the lake A larking body of water, once screaming once babbling, once running A sleeping family A white child with A water gun A tall tree A tunneling A horn Another A too small blanket, you in my mind and next to me A wind in my ears, my basement look what I found, leave the lights on A sigh A tie on a rooftop A still flooding Another horn All in the flight path An immovable object A clapping of leaves A certainty, it is seven feet deep One boy watches the other A horn, 2022. Crayon, indigo, Vaseline, stone, ebonizing dye (coffee), gouache, and leather, four of six panels. Collection of the artist; courtesy the artist and François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles and New York.

Ivy Kwan Arce and Julie Tolentino

  • Floor 6

This collaboration from California-based artists Ivy Kwan Arce and Julie Tolentino explores systems of care and knowledge that sustain those living longterm with HIV/AIDs, influenced by Kwan Arce’s longterm HIV/AIDs activism. Combining glass orbs, satellites, performance, and extensive knowledge, it’s a breathtaking work.

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Ivy Kwan Arce and Julie Tolentino, ECHO POSITION: Poster, poster accompanying performance and installation by Ivy Kwan Arce and Julie Tolentino, 2021. Digital C-print, wood, and glass. Collection of the artists.

Raven Chacon 

  • Floor 6 and 95 Horatio Street

Albuquerque-based artist Raven Chacon has a series of three videos in the exhibition, focusing on American Indian women singing the history of the current American landscape. Their intricate songs of resistance and truth address the Navajo Long Walk, the Trail of Tears, the forced removal from homelands, and more. To specifically see Chacon’s piece Silent Choir (Standing Rock) one must cross the street to their 95 Horatio Street location.

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Raven Chacon, still from Three Songs, 2021. Three-channel video installation; 6:51 min.

Na Mira

  • Floor 6

Using an infrared night camera, Los Angeles-based artist Na Mira explores themes of colonialism, violence, and desire amidst their own autobiographical context in their video work Night Vision (Red as never been). Including footage of their performance as a tiger in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, Mira was informed by their great-grandmother’s period living as a shaman illegally during the Japanese occupation of Korea.

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Na Mira, Night Vision (Red as never been), 2022. Three-channel infrared high-definition video, color, sound, holographic plexiglass; 24:44 min.

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