Anthony Elms, artist and associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia, is one of three outside-NYC curators the Whitney Museum of American Art handpicked for its 2014 Biennial. According to The New York Times, Elms’s exhibit is on the second floor of the museum’s Breuer building, and writer Holland Cotter says, out of the three exhibitions, “it has some of the work I liked best.” He goes into more detail:
A piece at the entrance by Jimmie Durham — Native American by descent, in self-exile from the United States since 1987 — was a good omen. His abstract but roughly humanoid sculpture called “Choose Any Three” is made of stacked wood chips inscribed with names: Vanzetti, E. Zapata; Crazy Horse; Ho Chi Minh, Cristóbal Colón, Johnny Colón, Kay Starr, Malcolm X, etc. Mix and match and create your own political meaning for the piece.
This is also sort of the general method underlying Mr. Elms’s show, which reveals itself slowly. You spot an LP playing on a turntable, but there’s no sound. You listen closer, and maybe there is: a kind of audible vacuum, moving air. The recording was made on Sept. 11 and 12, 2001, by Matt Hanner, a member of the collective Academy Records. He lived under a flight path near a Chicago airport. When planes were grounded after the news of the Sept. 11 attacks, he taped the extraordinary silence.
You can catch the Whitney Biennial now through May 25th. More info here.
The 2014 Whitney Biennial continues through May 25 at the Whitney Museum of American Art; 212-570-3600, whitney.org.