Whitney Museum Posts Self-Reformative 95 Theses

04/24/2012 3:39 PM |

The Whitney as Martin Luther. Soon to be played by Forest Whitaker.
  • The Whitney as Martin Luther. Soon to be played by Forest Whitaker.

A latter-day secular Martin Luther of sorts has nailed some incendiary, disputatio-ready claims to the door of the Whitney Museum of American Art—while posing, no less, as the institution of critique itself.

Indeed, certain individuals from the arts-related branches of Occupy Wall Street—employing, much like Martin Luther and his supporters, the swiftest communicative forms to date—sent around a very curious, very self-critical, a bit self-flattering, significantly OWS-endorsing and, of course, rather completely false press release yesterday.

Like more than a few (million, certainly) people, I too received, however indirectly, an email featuring the curious treatise, which read a lot like the type of life-changing statements someone of great wealth or authority might make after having a deeply enlightening, absolutely humbling, gut-wrenchingly conversion-worthy experience with a socio-politico-economic ‘other’ over the weekend, then having a bit too much coffee on Monday morning and denouncing himself in a Forest-Whitaker-waterworks-worthy way.

Make that way too much coffee. Or stronger substances still.

At any rate, among the sweeping administrative and institutional reforms ‘The Museum’ announced, such as shedding itself of significant financial support (indulgences!) from Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank, it also claimed that it will “cease business as usual” on May Day and “take art into the streets.” It would then reopen on May 2nd “a wholly changed institution.”

You can read the full text here, assuming it will stay there. If not, try here.

The kernel of truth in all the verbiage, rather amusingly, is that the Whitney actually will be closed on May Day.

Because it’s a Tuesday. It’s always closed on Tuesdays.

At the same time, my mention of excommunication-like consequences for anyone is exaggerated on many fronts. Not least because the Whitney itself has yet to communicate much of anything in return.

And so, in effect, no art-world Diet of Worms.

But we’ll keep you posted if one issues an Edikt.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio