This N' That: Keep In the Know With Photography News
By Ashley Yu
The Whitney Houston Biennial Returns
As a parody of the Whitney Biennial that began in 2014, artist Christine “C” Finley will stage the third edition of the Whitney Houston Biennial that focuses exclusively on artists who identify as female. It is set to open the same day as the museum’s prestigious exhibition on contemporary art.
Finley decided to compensate for the Whitney Biennial’s disappointing ratio of female artists of only 32 percent in 2014. Each edition of the Whitney Houston Biennial has been titled after the late singer’s top hits. This year’s theme is “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”—it’s largest to date with venues in New York and Los Angeles.
Though the official Whitney exhibition has improved its gender ratio over the years, Finley is aiming to highlight the inequality that plagues the art world in general. Curated by Assad Ghawami, the Whitney Houston Biennial celebrates over 400 female artists, plus a film festival component of 100 movies with strong female leads.
Open to the public, the Whitney Houston Biennial opens in La MaMa Galleria in New York from May 19-29 and from June 2–12 in LA, location TBA.
Sony World Photography Award Shortlists Announced
This year’s shortlist for the Sony World Photography Award is selected from over 326,000 entries from 195 countries. The award is divided into four categories comprised of professional, student, youth, and open. The shortlisted work is set to go on show at the Somerset House in London, before touring internationally. The exhibition will also dedicate a section to celebrate the winner for Outstanding Contribution to Photography, Nadav Kander.
This year’s judges include Brendan Embser, managing editor of Aperture; Emma Lewis, assistant curator of the Tate Museum; Liu Heung Shing, founder of the Shanghai Center of Photography; and Isabelle van Marle, head of artist and gallery relations at Unseen Amsterdam.
From Mustafa Hassona’s empowering photograph of a young Palestinian protester to David Behar’s quirky images of cabana rental houses in Miami Beach, the judges describe the chosen photographers as “the vanguard,” that involved “a great diversity of work.” The overall winner of the Photographer of the Year prize is set to win $25,000 and will be announced on April 17, the day before the exhibition opens at Somerset House.
Iconic French New Wave Director, Agnes Varda, Passes Away at 90
The director behind films, such as Vagabond and Cléo From 5 to 7, has passed away from breast cancer in her Paris home, the night of March 29. She was 90 and surrounded by family and friends upon her death. She is survived by two children.
Described by her friends as a “joyful feminist” and “passionate artist”, she presented her latest film Varda by Agnes last month at the Berlin Film Festival and received the honorary Berlinale Camera award. In 2017, Varda was awarded an honorary Oscar as the first female director to ever receive the accolade.
Born in Brussels, Varda’s family moved to France during World War II. In 1995, she directed her debut motion picture La Pointe Courte. Though inexperienced, critics were impressed by Varda’s fierce personality and incisive eye for beauty. She would become one of the pioneering filmmakers of the French New Wave, alongside François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. She was the only female member of Nouvelle Vogue and sidelined for her gender, which would push to her fight for gender equality in the filmmaking industry.
Unabashed in dealing with taboo topics of sex and death, Cléo From 5 to 7 released in 1962 and is her most well-known work. She married fellow filmmaker Jacques Demy in the same year. It took decades for American Hollywood to recognize her legacy, but did so in 2017 with an Oscar nomination for Faces Places.
After Spending $475M, The Shed open in Hudson Yards
Due to open on April 5, The Shed aims to be the world’s most flexible cultural institution. The artistic director and chief executive Alex Poots described the multi-functional space as “part museum, part performing arts center, part pop-up venue.” Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the new $475M building is situated in the intersection between the High Line and the Hudson Yards, aligning with the Whitney Museum.
With a moveable shell that can roll on wheels into the outdoor place, the building also has a versatile theatre, two expansive galleries, and a creative lab. With the Hudson Yards under fire, many art leaders criticized The Shed’s purpose and the city’s insane amount of funding out into the project. Though non-profit and funded by private institutions, the city launched a proposal in 2008 to give $75M towards The Shed’s start-up costs and first three years of commission, of which 20 are planned for its first year.
The inaugural commission is to be presented from April to June by German painter Gerhard Richter, Estonian composer Argo Pärt, and American composer Steve Reich. With tickets at $25 a piece, The Shed will host performances by an a cappella choir, a live orchestra, and a new film by conceptual artist Trisha Donnelly. UK artist Steve McQueen is opening his musical debut with Soundtrack of America as an exploration on the etymology of African-American music.
As part of The Shed’s focus on “equity and democratization,” tickets are available at $10 for low-income families. This also involved Open Space — a programmer of new pieces by 52 emerging artists and a theatre production showcasing street dance taught in 20 New York public schools as part of their outreach programme.
Italian Renaissance Painter Moroni in the Frick Collection
Mocked for his naturalistic approach to imperfections in portraiture, Giovanni Batista Moroni has long been ignored by history. Accused of lacking in an artistic imagination, The Frick Collection’s exhibit Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture reconstructs his artistic legacy of innovative realism, for which Rembrandt would be acclaimed for a century later.
From The Tailor to Isotta Brembati, the exhibit aims to showcase his wide range of portraits of the over 20 paintings he made during his lifetime in his hometown of Bergano. Born there in 1525, the painter is renowned for his sober and dignified subjects, inspired by religious compositions.
Many of his subjects do not have dramatic displays of emotions, but rather blank and impassive expressions that recreate the gentle and somber air that surrounds the Italian petty bourgeoisie. Reinforced by tones of cool grey, Moroni’s style is subtle yet poignant. This will be the painter’s first major exhibition in America.
The exhibition runs until June 2 at the Frick Collection.