Sharon Hayes's one-person show, "There's so much I want to say to you," which opened last week at the Whitney Museum, seeks to recreate the public square as a performative site for political exchange.
The exhibition, on the third floor of the museum, contains both new and old work, and illustrates Hayes's approach well. She prefers a neutral stance, collecting and reproducing images and voices. Using video, album covers, recreated lawn signs, audio recordings, and banners, she alludes to forms of public and political communication. For example, the album covers in the piece entitled An Ear to the Sounds of Our History (2012) are for recorded political speeches for the most part, a wistful mix of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, with a recording of Louise Nevelson thrown in as a wild card. Hayes arranges the covers in groups on the walls, letting the viewer guess at the connections. The speeches on the omitted vinyl are silenced in this installation. Similarly, Hayes displays a set of five Voice Portraits (2012), tight close-up video recordings of performers speaking, projected onto small screens suspended elegantly from the ceiling. The "voices," however, are silent.
The 2012 Whitney Biennial has used its opened-up fourth floor to present various forms of performance, tending toward the somewhat experimental. But the program made a nod to traditional theater with New York-based Yair Oelbaum's "There Will Be Buried," a residency that culminated in a "dramatic play." The consistently awful quality of the play and the production did not, however, favor the Whitney's attempts to move beyond customary art forms, in this case by becoming a theater impresario.
Oelbaum directed and designed the set, and performed as part of an ensemble of five, joined by, among others, artist Kai Althoff.
"Wait, where are you going?" theater director/writer Richard Maxwell asked a few museumgoers leaving his rehearsal at the Whitney Museum Thursday afternoon during his five-day residency on the museum's fourth floor this week. "This isn't a lounge," he joked to another couple seated on the floor watching.
Most theater rehearsal spaces are dingy places. Maxwell's rehearsal space is impossibly grand: 4000 square feet of landmarked modernity designed by one of the most renowned architects of the twentieth century.
Kraftwerk, the German techno pop group that improbably came to fame in 1974 with "Autobahn," an almost lyric-less piece of synthesizer music, has come back for a grand eight-show retrospective at MoMA. The lead-up to their premiere last night was highly anticipated, with tickets being resold for huge amounts online. What they were buying into was a specific presentation of Kraftwerk, with curatorial and advertising agendas.
Michael Clark's Who's Zoo, commissioned for the 2012 Whitney Biennial performance series on the fourth floor of the museum, did not live up to expectations. A legendary London-based choreographer and dancer, Clark famously worked with the late gender-morpher, costume-as-art performer and London nightclub habitué Leigh Bowery, and Y.B.A. star Sarah Lucas. His project at the Whitney, which ended yesterday, involved a live residency during museum hours and recruited volunteer participants. Though I saw the work on Apr. 5, apparently it changed immensely over the course of its run.
2012, aluminum, wood, sublimation print on polyester and concrete, 71 3/4 by 122 1/2 by 135 inches overall. Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New Yor