new-york

the Whitney Biennial

Whitney Museum of American Art

DANIEL BIRNBAUM

JUTTA, A CHARACTER in the Bernadette Corporation’s exquisite-corpse novel Reena Spaulings (2004), has learned how to sidestep the pitfalls of selfhood, turning her own body into a kind of assemblage: “Books, ideas, movements, figures, photos, data, other lives,” Reena, the book’s protagonist, observes. “I can almost tell the place on her body where she has digested Artaud, Rimbaud.” This elusive, recombinant concept of the self seems close to what Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne had in mind when curating this year’s Whitney Biennial, “Day for Night” (titled after the 1973 François Truffaut film): Their exhibition is to some degree a celebration of the ambiguities of collective production and of fictitious personae so widespread in the art world right now. “Anonymity or invisibility might be the condition of absolute freedom today,” muses Toni Burlap in a catalogue essay.

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