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It would take the sprouting phalluses of Yayoi Kusama to remind us that art’s erection is only temporary. Her floor sculptures have taken over the space left behind by the Whitney’s recent Biennial discharge; gone are Sam Lewitt’s “Fluid Employment” and Joanna Malinowska’s totemic tusks. But, though physically replaced, their ideas linger after them, wafting in the contemplative air. From loaded paintings on their transparent supports or rooms filled with personal performances, to the now independent spirit of the walls of Kusama, themes from the two shows spill into eachother. The hermetic core of the individual that exists in all of us, hidden behind layers of associating skin, has regained its somber footing in the works put forth by the Whitney Museum of American Art these past few months.
Unlike the tasteless ego of neo-expressionistic self-invented languages (that isolated rather than excavated) or conceptual vanishing acts and the promises of experiential art whose instructions are merely tautological and seem to come from on high, what has been set by the Whitney at this time are un-coded expressions, images that are more available because they're fully formed, like patterns and dots, appearing as if already conscious. “This Could Be Something if I Let It,” Dawn Kasper’s Biennial installation of her life’s possessions, might have referred to the nature of possession itself, of being taken over by something besides our real selves--society and its impeding structures. Forrest Bess’s manifested myths turn cerebral visions into biological clarity as an alternative to passively accepting the boundaries of physical reality. Nicole Eisenman’s serial faces, each achieved differently by their unique and contained formalisms, sloshing and building themselves each unlike the other, stare out with their own visual personality--venerates of Shiva with the many sides of singular being.
Together, Yayoi Kusama and the Biennial ghosts haunt the halls with their hallucinations that come from within and boil to a foreseeable surface, leaving behind transcendental impressions. One only has to wait for Matt Connors’ “Impressionism” in the fall at MoMA Ps1 to see paint geographically descend canvas, sinking beneath its rigid surface, as a stain of its contextual surrounding. What better way to describe the psychology of distracting association that prevails in the current day, a reminder that reclusive meditation isn't a means to obstain from the world but to welcome it in universal droves.
WHITNEY BIENNIAL, March 1 - May 27, 2012
YAYOI KUSAMA, July 12 - September 30, 2012
MATT CONNORS, October 21 - December 31, 2012