Looking Back: The 10th White Columns Annual

Selected by Matthew Higgs

January 12–February 20, 2016 320 West 13th Street Looking Back

Participating artists include:

Justin Adian, Yevgeniya Baras, Kevin Beasley, Susan Cianciolo, Vaginal Davis, Rainer Ganahl, John Giorno, Bill Jenkins, Christopher Knowles, Sadie Laska, Ray Lopez, Birdie Lusch, Alice Mackler, Jackie McAllister, Dave McKenzie, Mieko Meguro, Marlon Mullen, Ruth Root, Zoe Pettijohn Schade, Peter Schlesinger, William Scott, Nancy Shaver, David Shrigley, Alan Vega, Alyson Vega.

White Columns is pleased to announce “Looking Back”, the tenth installment of the White Columns Annual. For the past decade the exhibition has been a fixture on White Columns’ calendar. Each year, 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 with art in New York during the previous year. For the tenth ‘Annual’ exhibition – coinciding with his tenth year as White Columns’ Director – Matthew Higgs has made this year’s selection. (Higgs also selected the inaugural Annual in 2006.)

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 landscape. The format of the exhibition inevitably encourages highly subjective and personal responses to the realities of viewing art in New York. The ‘Annual’ exhibition series hopes to illuminate aspects of the specific, yet highly idiosyncratic networks – historical, social, aesthetic, etc. – that individuals follow in an expansive and increasingly fragmented cultural environment.

Through the re-contextualization of artworks encountered in other circumstances and contexts, 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 re-thinking 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.

Reviewing curator Bob Nickas’ ‘Annual’ in 2010, Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times:
“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.”

Previous Selectors for the White Columns Annuals
The inaugural ‘Annual’ exhibition in 2006 was selected by White Columns’ Director Matthew Higgs; the second in 2007 was selected by independent curator Clarissa Dalrymple; the third in 2008 was selected by curator and writer Jay Sanders; the fourth in 2009 was selected by Miriam Katzeff and James Hoff of Primary Information; the fifth in 2010 by curator and writer Bob Nickas; the sixth in 2011 was selected by the artists Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss; the seventh in 2012/13 was selected by Artists Space curator Richard Birkett; the eighth in 2013/14 was selected by independent curator Pati Hertling; the ninth in early 2015 was selected by Cleopatra’s Bridget Donahue, Bridget Finn, Colleen Greenan, and White Columns’ Deputy Director and Curator Erin Somerville. The selector for the next Annual – to be held in January/February 2017 – will be announced shortly.

About Matthew Higgs
Matthew Higgs (b. 1964, Wakefield, UK) is an artist and, since 2004, the Director and Chief Curator of White Columns. Since the early 1990s he has organized more than three hundred exhibitions and projects with artists in Europe and North America. A regular contributor to Artforum his writings have appeared in more than fifty books and catalogs, most recently for Ella Kruglyanskaya and Judith Scott. Since 2002 he has collaborated extensively with organizations and art centers that support the work of artists with mental and developmental disabilities inc. Creative Growth (Oakland, CA); N.I.A.D. (Richmond, CA); Healing Arts Initiative (New York); and Fountain House Gallery (New York). As an artist his work is represented by Murray Guy, New York; The Green Gallery, Milwaukee; and Wilkinson, London. He will have a forthcoming exhibition at Murray Guy, New York, opening in late February 2016.

For further information about this exhibition contact: info@whitecolumns.org
Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday / Noon – 6pm
White Columns / 320 West 13th Street (Enter on Horatio Street) New York / NY 10014 / 212-924-4212 /