Press Announcement - “Looking Back” / The 13th White Columns Annual — Selected by Olivia Shao
White Columns

January 21 – March 4, 2022

Looking Back
The 13th White Columns Annual
Selected by Olivia Shao

Opening Reception: Friday, January 20, 6pm – 8pm

Andy Robert, House Flies 2, 2023 

Participating artists:

Terry Adkins, Olga Balema, Lyndon Barrois Jr., Patricia L. Boyd, James Castle, Leidy Churchman, Jenni Crain, Blacklips Performance Cult, Verne Dawson, Trisha Donnelly, Elise Duryee-Browner/Graham Vunderink, Elizabeth Englander, Donald Evans, Minnie Evans, Ryan Foerster, Raque Ford, Ellie Ga, Fernanda Gomes, Ray Hamilton, Yun-Fei Ji, Dominique Knowles, Marc Kokopeli/Matthew Langan-Peck, June Leaf, Maggie Lee, Agosto Machado, Danny McDonald, Peter Moore, Maria Nordman, Andy Robert, Rafael Sánchez, Ser Serpas, Jack Shannon, Ahlam Shibli, Bob Smith, Anita Steckel, Unknown Lakota Artist, Frank Walter, Johanna Went and Benjamin Péret/Robert Rius/André Breton/Thérèse Caen/Remedios Varo

White Columns is pleased to announce the 13th edition of its Annual exhibition Looking Back, which has been selected by the New York-based curator Olivia Shao. The exhibition will be presented throughout all of White Columns’ galleries.

As with previous ‘Annuals’ an individual or a collaborative team (e.g. an artist, a curator, a writer, etc.) is invited to organize an exhibition based on their personal experiences and interactions with art in New York City during the previous year. In a very straightforward way, the ‘Annual’ exhibitions hope to reveal something of the complexities involved in trying to negotiate – and engage with – New York’s constantly shifting cultural landscapes. The format of the exhibition inevitably encourages highly subjective and personal responses to the realities of viewing art in New York City. The ‘Annual’ exhibition series hopes to illuminate aspects of the specific, yet highly idiosyncratic networks – historical, social, aesthetic, etc. – that individuals follow in an increasingly expansive and fragmented cultural environment.

Through the recontextualization of artworks encountered in other circumstances, the exhibition hopes to establish – albeit temporarily – a new ‘narrative,’ a conversation, of sorts, amongst both artists and artworks that seeks to illuminate and/or explore certain underlying tendencies or connections that might otherwise have remained elusive or obscured. In rethinking aspects of the (fairly) recent past the exhibition hopes to provoke something akin to a sense of déjà vu, establishing a scenario that is at once both reflective and forward-thinking.

There are no restrictions as to what type of work can be included. The ‘Annual’ exhibitions seek to eliminate any categorical or hierarchical distinctions we might place upon artworks (e.g. based upon the circumstances in which they were originally seen, or the seniority of an individual artist, etc.). The works included in the exhibition might have originally been encountered in exhibitions at galleries, not-for-profit spaces, or during visits to artists’ studios, etc.

Writing in Artforum in 2022 about the 12th ‘Annual’ exhibition selected by artist Mary Manning, Johanna Fateman wrote:

“In ‘Looking Back,’ Manning’s response to what could have been a dismaying subject – the not-quite-back-to-normal art world of 2021 – left me somewhat relieved. The show seemed to credibly propose that it was a good year for small things, for perceiving and adjusting to, but not making decisive claims about, our particular catastrophic-embryonic state.”

Writing about the ‘Annual’ exhibitions in The New York Times, Holland Cotter wrote:

“One of the things that makes the White Columns annuals so valuable is that they often include artists … who are unlikely to find their way into mainstream institutions. A second, equally important function that Looking Back serves, or should serve, is to provide a view of contemporary art that is not entirely determined by art-industry consensus – meaning the market – but rather is seen through a single informed, idiosyncratic, even resistant sensibility.”

About Olivia Shao:

Olivia Shao is a curator based in New York.

The curators of the previous White Columns Annual exhibitions were: White Columns’ Director Matthew Higgs; Clarissa Dalrymple; Jay Sanders; Primary Information (Miriam Katzeff and James Hoff); Bob Nickas; Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss; Richard Birkett; Pati Hertling; Cleopatra’s (Bridget Donahue, Bridget Finn, Colleen Grennan, and White Columns’ Deputy Director and Curator Erin Somerville); Anne Doran; and Mary Manning.

White Columns and Olivia Shao would like to thank all of the participating artists and galleries for their enthusiasm and support for Looking Back.

For further information about this exhibition contact:

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am to 6pm.

White Columns
91 Horatio Street
New York, NY 10014
Tuesday–Saturday, 11 AM–6 PM