Amy Taubin

Charles Atlas, Ocean, 2011, still from a color HD video, 100 minutes. Emma Desjardins and Silas Riener.

THERE WERE, FOR ME, TWO REVELATIONS in the 2012 Whitney Biennial: Robert Gober’s installation of Forrest Bess’s paintings (outside my purview here) and the first—and, sadly, last—feature-length documentaries by the late Mike Kelley, part of his characteristically poignant yet mordant unfinished Mobile Homestead project, 2010–. Indeed, there are more than half a dozen stunning movies in the Biennial’s film and video program, which has been ambitiously (if somewhat perversely) organized by Ed Halter and Thomas Beard, founders of the lively Brooklyn microcinema Light Industry, in consultation with the exhibition’s chief curators, Elisabeth Sussman and Jay Sanders.

Halter and Beard cast their net wide, hauling in movies from the three basic food groups as they appear on grant applications: Narrative, Documentary, and Experimental. Commercial movies—or, perhaps better,

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