Two artists living and working in Philadelphia are among the 75 selected for the 2019 Whitney Biennial, which opens May 17 at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and runs through Sept. 22.
Multimedia artists Carolyn Lazard, 31, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden, 37, will participate in the exhibition.
Lazard explores the landscape of the body, but not just any body. Lazard’s work focuses on illness and the distortions and insights it brings and imposes. The artist has written: “I am a disabled artist whose work is informed by my experience living with multiple autoimmune diseases. As a chronically ill person, I pass as able-bodied.”
Lazard’s work has recently been seen at LUX UK in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, the University of Toronto, the Irish Film Institute, the Glasgow Film Institute, and elsewhere. Lazard is a recipient of the Wynn Newhouse Award.
McClodden’s work has recently been seen at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Penn, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and LA-MOCA. It was included in ICA’s 2017 exhibition, “Speech/Acts," where Inquirer art critic Thomas Hine called it “at once the most in-your-face and the most ambiguous of the show’s works.”
The Brad Johnson Tapes, X-On Subjugation (2017), Hine said, “consists of a scaffold-like frame containing a screen on which we see the artist hanging upside down by her ankles from the same structure as she recites a poem by Brad Johnson, who died of AIDS in 2011.”
This year’s biennial, the Whitney’s 79th, was co-organized by two of the museum’s curators, Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley. Not surprisingly, it has already produced some controversy.
The New York Times reports that artist Michael Rakowitz has pulled out of the exhibition, citing the involvement of Whitney board member Warren Kanders, owner and chief executive of Safariland, a weapons manufacturer. Tear gas manufactured by the company has reportedly been used against asylum seekers on the southern border with Mexico, among other global hot spots.
Rakowitz called the trustee’s participation “toxic philanthropy,”