Looking Back / The 14th White Columns Annual – Selected by Randy KennedyJanuary 19–March 2, 2024
“With apologies to Claes Oldenburg (“I Am For An Art”) and thanks to all the artists whose work I saw over the last year and was able to include in this show:
I am for an art that sneaks in through the side door, an art that’s undercover, underhanded, underwater, an art that joins the underground resistance, an art that is understated and overbearing, overstated and undermining, aboveboard and double-dealing, an art that is spit-polish unfinished and junkyard clean. I am for an art that wears no hat in the winter, an art that won’t show its cards, an art with something up its sleeve, an art that stands up for itself while falling down. An art that doesn’t hold a job, carries a minor criminal record, picks up night shifts, argues with strangers, passes out at parties, disappears for days on end with no word, an art that bought a ticket for the circus but won’t go in, an art that secretly won the lottery and gave it all away. I am for an art that keeps its distance from language and contradicts its own taste. An art that is “wrenched and sweaty … calm and cool,” (Whitman), an art that provides “almost-clarity about not-quite confusion” (Richard Nonas), an art that has no time but just won’t leave, an art that closes the joint down.”
White Columns is pleased to announce the 14th edition of its Annual exhibition Looking Back, which has been selected by the New York-based writer and curator Randy Kennedy. 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 a variety of contexts such as exhibitions at galleries, not-for-profit spaces, art fairs, 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 Randy Kennedy:
Randy Kennedy is a writer, editor and curator. He worked for 25 years for The New York Times, much of that time writing about the art world, and he has also written for Aperture, The Paris Review, The Art Newspaper and numerous other publications. His first novel, Presidio, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2018. He is editor in chief of Ursula magazine, published by Hauser & Wirth. He is currently at work on a play in collaboration with the artist Will Boone, based on a notorious 1927 bank robbery in Cisco, Texas.
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; Mary Manning; and Olivia Shao.
White Columns and Randy Kennedy 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am to 6pm.
Oliver Lee Jackson
Richard E. Treubel