New York

1989 Biennial

Whitney Museum of American Art

Though I’m reluctant to join the mob of Whitney bashers, it’s been hard to remain judicious about this year’s Biennial. Like many others, I was puzzled by the organizers’ exclusion of art that resists a conventional—indeed, conservative—conception of contemporary visual culture. I was offended, for instance, that AIDS and the varied cultural responses to it were consigned to a single, metaphorical mention in the catalogue introduction: “ . . . the horrific toll of AIDS on the arts community is but a harbinger of potentially larger disasters, including the ozone deterioration that threatens the planet and its life forms.” Of what apocalypse, I wonder, would AIDS have been the harbinger to the authors of this sentence had they considered its horrific toll beyond the “arts community”? This statement, ringing in my ears along with others from that introduction, became my Acoustiguide to the

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