Looking Back / The Fifth White Columns Annual
selected by Bob Nickas
Participating artists: Darren Bader, Jules de Balincourt, Barry X Ball, Alvin Baltrop, Gene Beery, Huma Bhabha, Carol Bove, Freddie Brice, Vija Celmins, Mike Cloud, Bruce Conner, Volker Corell, Jay DeFeo, Trisha Donnelly, John Fahey, Brion Gysin, Tamar Halpern, Ull Hohn, David Hurles, Candy Jernigan, Craig Kalpakjian, Stephen Kaltenbach, Jacob Kassay, David Malek, Justin Matherly, Wardell Milan, Joseph Montgomery, Amy O’Neill, Virginia Overton, Alyssa Phoebus, Charlotte Posenenske, Nathaniel Robinson, Michael Scott, Lily Van der Stokker, Philip Taaffe, Paul Thek, Gert and Uwe Tobias, Josh Tonsfeldt, Andra Ursuta, Chris Vasell, Dan Walsh, Karl Wirsum, anonymous tantric artist.
‘Looking Back’ is the fifth installment of the White Columns Annual. The exhibition is now an annual fixture on White Columns’ calendar. Each year an individual (e.g. an artist, a curator, a writer, etc.) is invited to make an exhibition at White Columns based on their personal experience of looking at art in New York in the previous year. For the fifth ‘Annual’ exhibition White Columns has invited the New York-based independent curator Bob Nickas to make the selection.
In a very straightforward sense the ‘Annual’ exhibition hopes to reveal something of the complexities involved in trying to negotiate – and engage with – New York’s constantly evolving cultural landscape. The format of the exhibition inevitably encourages highly subjective and deeply 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 routes – geographical, intellectual, historical, social, etc. – individuals follow in an increasingly expansive and 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 artists and artworks, that seeks to illuminate and/or explore certain underlying tendencies, conditions, or connections that perhaps might otherwise have remained elusive or obscured. In re-thinking the (fairly) recent past the exhibition hopes to provoke something akin to a sense of deja-vu, establishing a scenario that is at once both reflective and optimistic (forward thinking.)
There are no restrictions as to what type of work can be included. ‘Looking Back’ seeks 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.) These works might have been originally seen in exhibitions at institutions, galleries, and not-for-profit spaces, or at performances, readings, or during visits to artists’ studios, etc.
About the curator:
Since the early 1980s Bob Nickas has organized more than 75 exhibitions in the United States and Europe. A former editor of Index magazine and curator at PS1, his is arguably amongst the most influential – and mercurial – curatorial voices of the past 25 years.
The inaugural ‘Annual’ exhibition in 2006 was selected by White Columns’ Director & Chief Curator Matthew Higgs; the second in 2007 was selected by curator Clarissa Dalrymple; the third in 2008 was selected by former Greene Naftali Director and curator Jay Sanders (who will co-curate the 2012 Whitney Biennial); and the fourth in 2009 was selected by Primary Information, the New York-based non-profit organization devoted to printing artists’ books, artist writings, out of print publications and editions.
White Columns would like to thank Bob Nickas for his commitment to this project, and we would like to acknowledge all of the participating artists and their representatives for their enthusiastic response to ‘Looking Back.’