Critics’ Picks

White Noise (detail), 2000.

New York

Joseph Grigely: White Noise

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
June 28–September 9

The premise of Joseph Grigely’s work is deceptively simple: The artist, who has been deaf since age ten, saves the bits of paper on which he and his interlocutors who do not know American Sign Language scribble back and forth in conversation. For this installation, Grigely has chosen only pieces of paper that are white—napkins, swatches of restaurant-table coverings, and notepaper from hotels and art institutions around the world. Pinned floor to ceiling inside a specially constructed oval-shaped wall, the fluttering scraps generate a low visual hum, a tacit “recording” of 2,500 moments in which speech and writing—often segregated in terms of context and style—merge into a grid of linguistic mark-making that suggests something both rigorously conceptual (think Kosuth, Genette, or Lacan) and touchingly immediate. The exhibition inaugurates the Contemporary Series, in which the Whitney will at last devote regular attention to emerging and mid-career artists in its intimate Lobby Gallery.