What to listen to at the Whitney Biennial
» A downloadable mixtape for enjoying art while staying punk and not talking to anyone.
Installation view of 2012 Whitney Biennial (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 1-May 27, 2012). Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins.
Download the mixtape here. It doesn't have Dopesmoker on it because that is 63 minutes long and if you want it you should just go get it.
While riding my bike uptown to see the 2012 Whitney Biennial, I was stopped at a red light in the East Village, and a gruff construction worker with a thick New York accent started yelling in the face of the cyclist next to me. "You look a hell of a lot like somebody! Who the fuck do you look like," he said. The young man shrunk away, terrified, and then the construction worker said "I got it! Dali! Salvador fuckin' Dali!" The light turned green and the man wasted no time in riding away, but I stuck around, and the construction worker looked me in the eye and said "I know a lot about art. I'm a good artist." Then he winked.
I wish he was in the Biennial. Who is the Whitney Museum of American Art to tell us who the best American artists of the past two years are? Well, they've been doing this since 1932, and sometimes it sucks, but this year everybody is saying it's actually kind of good. And when jaded artsy types tell you something is "actually kind of good," you go. Don't worry about paying. Just ask a tourist for their sticker when they're on their way out. And if you're not in NYC, you can live vicariously through this mix.
Put this mix on your "pod" and enjoy it as you make your way through the exhibit. This isn't a full list of every piece, and some of the pieces have their own sounds to listen to, which you should do. And for some of the more imersive pieces, like the ones by Dawn Casper and the Red Krayola, you're on your own. Don't be afraid of art. Let these songs be your guide.
Kai Althoff - Untitled
"High Gold" by Liturgy
This one is grand and intricate and complex and meditative, just like Liturgy.
Moyra Davey (b. 1958), Darling, 2011. Chromogenic print, 4 x 6 in. (10.2 x 15.2 cm). Collection of the artist. © Moyra Davey; courtesy the artist
Moyra Davey - Mary, Marie
"Power Plant" by Andrew Jackson Jihad
I know vaguely political folk punk is sooo 2003, but so is this piece with a bunch of typewriter font in it. Cute shit, you know you love it.
K8 Hardy - The Path
"One In a Million" by Aaliyah
I don't know about you, but the intimacy created by the re-contextualization of images from the worlds of fashion and celebrity just really make me wish Aaliyah was still alive.
Werner Herzog - Hearsay of the Soul
This one has its own music, so you can listen to that, or you can just hang out for an hour listening to Dopesmoker by Sleep.
Matt Hoyt - Untitled
"Raised In Timbers" by Woman Year
These tiny, strange objects meticulously constructed from metal, dye, tape, glue, resin, and "various putties" are as tender and freaky as this song.
Forrest Bess (1911–1977), The Noble Carbunkle, 1960. Oil on canvas, 30 x 49 1/2 in. (76.2 x 125.7 cm). Private collection; courtesy Amy Wolf Fine Art, New York
A room of work by Forrest Bess
"Universe" by The Microphones / Mount Eerie
I spent so long trying to find an audio analogue to the work of a man who lived in poverty, performed a DIY sex change on himself, and made some striking abstract works with unicorns in them, and I'm still pretty sure I did a shitty job of it.
Latoya Ruby Frazier - Braddock
"Not At War" by Japanther
These archival and re-appropriated images from a Levi's campaign surrounding Frazier's hometown in PA had a real "fuck the man" quality.
Andrew Masullo (b. 1957). 5030, 2008–10. Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in. (61 x 76.2 cm). Collection of the artist. © Andrew Masullo; courtesy Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles
Andrew Masullo - a lot of small paintings
"Surf Solar" by Fuck Buttons
These paintings are harsh, gleeful, and confusing. Also, there's about a million of them, so this eleven minute song is appropriate.
Liz Deschenes - Untitled
"Sketch 1" (from "Dropped Pianos") by Tim Hecker
A cool thing that minimalism can do is defy your expectations using very little. That's what this piece, and this song, does.
Sam Lewitt - Fluid Employment
"Friendly Confines" by Growing
What I like most about this piece is how the process of making it became part of it, and process (as opposed to product) is exactly what Growing's music is.
Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965), Untitled, 2011. Mixed-media monotype, 24 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (62.9 x 50.2 cm) each. The Hall Collection. © Nicole Eisenman; courtesy Leo Koenig Inc., New York
Nicole Eisenman - 45 mixed media monotypes
"Milk Man" by Deerhoof
These are "cute" but they are also hella detached and creepy.
Nick Mauss - Concern, Crush, Desire
"Morning Ritual" by Lucky Dragons
I really like how this repainted entryway (with an Andy Warhol print inside of it!) fucks with my head.
Jutta Koether - The Seasons I-IV
"Uma," "Umo," "Uma (Eye Remix)," "Umo (Eye Remix)" by OOIOO
There are four big, abstract expressionist works here, and there are four songs you can listen to. What-goes-with-what is kind of interchangeable, but everything here is a little bit bold and frightening.
Cameron Crawford - Sick Sic Six Sic ((Not)Moving): Seagullsssssssss ssssssssssssssssss
"House of Sun" by Boredoms
Remember when Boredoms just went full barefoot longhair? The alienation I felt from that is kind of like what I felt when I saw this sculpture.
Again, download the mixtape here. Happy arting!