White Columns

Looking Back: The White Columns Annual, selected by Primary Information

Opening reception: Wednesday November 18, 6 – 8 pm.

Participating artists include: Nobuyoshi Araki, Lutz Bacher, Steven Baldi, Henning Bohl, Chandra, Peter Coffin, Sarah Crowner, Matias Faldbakken, Cyprien Gaillard, John McCracken, Dorothy Iannone, Jason Kakoyiannis, Anya Kielar, Elad Lassry, The Mirror | Me Group, Albert Oehlen, Seth Price, Georgia Sagri, Paul Sharits, Joshua Smith, Reena Spaulings, Haim Steinbach and Josef Strau.

‘Looking Back’ is the fourth 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 fourth ‘Annual’ exhibition White Columns has invited James Hoff and Miriam Katzeff, who form the New York-based non-profit organization Primary Information, devoted to printing artist books, artist writings, out of print publications and editions.

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 curators:
Primary Information is a non-profit organization devoted to printing artist’s books, artist’s writings, and out of print publications and editions. Primary Information was founded by James Hoff and Miriam Katzeff, who met while working at Printed Matter, a non-profit artist bookstore in New York. United by their mutual interest in artist’s publications, they formed Primary Information to foster intergenerational dialogue as well as to aid in the creation of new publications and editions. For more information visit: www.primaryinformation.org


Writing in The New York Times in 2006 about the inaugural installment of the ‘White Columns Annual’ critic Holland Cotter said:

“The White Columns Annual does … what the Whitney Biennial used to do: it reconsiders a slice of art’s immediate past. … The idea is welcome affording a chance to linger over art that was seen earlier only in rushed visits, missed entirely or enthusiastically remembered. Maybe “White Columns Annual Pick” will have comparable cachet [to the Whitney Biennial] not so long from now.”

In 2007 Karen Rosenberg, writing in The New York Times, wrote: “The art world acquired a welcome new tradition when Matthew Higgs inaugurated the White Columns Annual.”

In late 2009 White Columns will appoint a selector for the fifth White Columns Annual (scheduled for November/December 2010.) As the ‘Annual’ exhibition series evolves over the coming years White Columns hopes that each successive ‘Annual’ will substantially augment - and depart from - its predecessor, creating an ongoing and unfolding commentary about certain aspects of the art produced and/or exhibited in New York. (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; and the third in 2008 was selected by Greene Naftali Director and curator Jay Sanders.)

White Columns would like to thank James Hoff and Miriam Katzeff for their 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.’

Related Press

Looking Back: The White Columns Annual, Selected By Primary Information - Artforum - February 2010

Looking Back: The White Columns Annual, Selected By Primary Information - New York Magazine - December 7, 2009

Looking Back: The White Columns Annual, Selected By Primary Information - The New York Times - December 4, 2009

Matias Faldbakken
Remainder V, 2009
Tiles, spray and marker pen
Dimensions variable, edition: unique
Courtesy of the artist, STANDARD, Oslo, and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Transportation, 1980
12” EP

Elad Lassry
Untitled, 2009
16 mm film, silent; Edition of 3
RT: 11 min. 40 sec.
Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

Installation view

Josef Strau
The Assistant (5), 2008
Ink letters, pencil and acrylic on canvas
24 x 18 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Installation view

Installation view

Cyprien Gaillard
Desniansky raion, 2007
Digital projection , music by Koudlam
RT: 30 min.
Courtesy of the artist and Bugada & Cargnel, Paris