It’s Whitney Biennial time again, so brace yourselves for a flood of cynical criticism and a parade of new art stars. This year’s incarnation promises novelty if nothing else — the co-curators Chrissie Iles, of the Whitney Museum, and Philippe Vergne, of the Walker Art Center, are placing a big emphasis on film and video art, featuring masters such as Kenneth Anger and Michael Snow as well as youngsters like Anthony Burdin, Aaron Young, and Paul Chan. For the first time, the exhibit will also include non-American artists and will have a title, Day for Night — a reference to the English translation of Truffaut’s film La Nuit Americaine and a nod to the dark mood of much contemporary art. Here are some of the highlights. Whitney Museum,945 Madison Ave.
5 Themes of the Show
It’s all about getting along this year, as the Biennial features half a dozen artist collectives that downplay the whole ego thing.
Musicians are the new artists, with Jim O’Rourke, Momus, and Daniel Johnston all contributing to the show.
Thank god! No more butterflies and frolicking children, there’s nothing but destruction and gore this year.
I know, Biennials are always political, but this time everybody’s really pissed off.
There’s nudity, there’s ornament, there’s glitter — more is more!
5 Must Sees
The culmination of a three-part project, A Journey That Wasn’t is a film of Huyghe’s journey to Antarctica and his spectacle at the Wollman Rink in Central Park.
Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty
This collaboration between Dan Graham, Tony Oursler, Rodney Graham, Laurent P. Berger, and the hipster band Japanther, is an inflammatory puppet show.
The Wrong Gallery
The founders of the Wrong Gallery, including Maurizio Cattelan, are curating Down By Law, a show within the show.
The oddball video artist is turning away from his usual inscrutable narratives and offering us a single, spinning chandelier.
Rirkrit Tiravanija and Mark di Suvero
In a recreation of di Suvero’s Peace Tower from 1966, the two are soliciting panels from hundreds of artists to construct a tower in the Whitney courtyard.
5 Under the Radar
This jack-of-all-trades makes paintings, sculptures, and videos about the pop icons who live and die for us.
The politically minded video artist, originally from Hong Kong, treads new ground with an ominous projection of light and shadows.
Strauss’ wacky photographs of people and their bad accessories will make you laugh out loud.
Absurd and grotesque collages come to life in Colburn’s animated films.
Masnyj’s sharp, black-and-white drawings incorporate Constructivist imagery in enigmatic scenes.
5 That Beg the Question "Is This Art?"
A fictional artist created in 2004 by a group of collaborators; they run a gallery and create art and music under the pseudonym.
This collaborative group has generated a fashion line, a magazine, a novel, and several films.
Critical Art Ensemble
This group of five radical artists writes books and organizes biotech projects to challenge “authoritarian culture.”
Her Bureau of Inverse Technology is a database of the government’s anti-terror actions.
Center for Land Use Interpretation
A research organization that studies the effect of human development on the natural landscape.
5 Heaviest Hitters/VIPs
This experimental film guru is showing a trippy Mickey Mouse adventure.
A contemporary of Warhol’s, she’s been making copies of other people’s work for 40 years.
The master of quirky, sassy, and totally inexplicable sculptures.
Lemme guess, another black square on paper. Can’t we see some more steel?
One of Warhol’s Factory boys, Mead was born in 1924! He’ll be reading his poetry and exhibiting some drawings.
5 Political Crusaders
His film Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry traces the presidential candidate’s war years and political ascendance.
Deep Dish Television Network
This grassroots satellite network broadcasts left-leaning programming about our government’s bad decisions.
A Cherokee artist, Durham makes work about the heritage of American Indian culture.
His recent film Anaconda Targets documents the bombing of a military target in Afghanistan.
His drawings and sculptures confront racial tensions with unflinching honesty.