New York

1989 Biennial (Film & Video)

Whitney Museum of American Art

Despite the limitations inherent in trying to select from two years of work, the film and video section of the Whitney Biennial represented an impressive range of work that pointed to an even greater range of possibilities. In the face of the thin sliver of choices sanctioned by the dominant market forces of film and television, a tropical forest of rare and beautiful work continues to hang on elsewhere and by other means. Mainstream film has generally been forced to abandon two of its greatest resources: the use of black and white stock, with its potential for dramatic conflict, and a conscious display of the relation of cinema’s present forms to its past ones. A number of films shown here, such as Michael Wallin’s Decodings, 1988, and Abigail Child’s Mayhem, 1987, used one or both of these resources to achieve outstanding results. Just as remarkable are the rapid advances made in the

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