David Rimanelli

ODI PROFANUM VULGUS ET ARCEO,”1 said Horace, and after spending a few hours at the 1993 Whitney Biennial I can’t say I disagree. Elisabeth Sussman and her cohorts have done their level best to bring the noise and discord of contemporary American society into the museum, but as a pallid reactionary, whose taste runs to pretty abstract paintings and mythological scenes à la Poussin, I wasn’t too impressed. And as a more or less full-time and often unwilling member of New York’s squalid vulgus, I think the museum should be about quiet time. With interactive video and audio installations coming at you like so many freight trains, this Biennial exhibition is oddly reminiscent of the Boston Museum of Science, but less informative. Weary of hectoring voices and blinking lights, I longed for the sepulchral silence of the Rothko Chapel.

Granted, some of it was pretty amusing. My favorite work had

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