Monday, April 28, 2014

I am in the 2014 Whitney Biennial

A friend and fellow artist, Deborah Doering, just informed me that I am in the current Whitney Biennial -- the giant and prestigious show in New York that takes the temperature of contemporary American art every two years.

How did I only just find this out, when the Biennial was inaugurated three weeks ago? Artist Tony Tasset has created a piece called Artist Monument, which is a collection of dozens of acrylic panels etched with the names of thousands of contemporary artists. The panels are fixed to wood and steel, and exhibited in the Hudson River Park in New York City:


My name is included in the list. It appears a few lines from my more famous namesake and distant relative, Grace Hartigan:


My first response was to be tickled pink, as we British say, about the idea of my name being included. Then I realised that the point of the piece is to show the daftness of monuments that commemorate people by a plaque bearing their name, by just putting up the names of close to 400,000 artists, from Picasso to, well, people like me, thus making them all equal, and equally unimportant. Having all these names alphabetised, and possibly selected randomly using a Google search, makes the idea of the monument somewhat meaningless. And of course the person who really gets commemorated is Tony Tasset, for spending the time putting together the piece, and installing such a large object, whose size is negated by the art world irony of the concept inscribed within all those names, but which nevertheless is included and thus commemorated in this important survey of contemporary art.

But, hey, at least my name is in this year's Whitney Biennial! Drinks are on me!

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