Steve McQueen’s ‘End Credits’ Closes Out Whitney’s Open Plan Exhibitions

It's a gallery large enough for McQueen's ambitions.

Steve McQueen, End Credits, 2012.
Photo: courtesy of the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Marian Goodman Gallery.

Oscar-winning film director and artist Steve McQueen is the final artist to participate in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Open Plan series of exhibitions, which takes advantage of the full scope of its over 18,000-square-foot fifth-floor gallery and runs April 29–May 14.

The artist, who won an Oscar in 2014 for his brutal feature film 12 Years a Slave, has obviously found the art world a bit too small for his ambitions, as artnet News’ Coline Millard wrote at the time—he even withdrew from the shortlist for the coveted Hugo Boss prize, saying he was too busy—but an 18,000-square-foot canvas, well, that’s another story.

He’ll show his 2012 video work End Credits, which studies declassified documents resulting from FBI surveillance of African American actor and activist Paul Robeson. The video presents a scrolling view of scanned pages of redacted documents as male and female actors narrate selections from the text.

The work continues McQueen’s focus on race relations in the US; in addition to 12 Years a Slave, which starred Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o, he’s at work on a biopic on Robeson. “His life and legacy was the film I wanted to make the second after Hunger,” McQueen told the Guardian in February, referring to his first feature film, which captured the 1981 hunger strike of IRA member Bobby Sands.

McQueen has also weighed in on the #OscarsSoWhite debate over racial inequality in the film industry, telling the Guardian that behind the scenes, Hollywood is “like Johannesburg.”

In addition to the 2014 Oscar win, McQueen also took home the Turner Prize in 1999, and directed the powerful 2011 feature film Shame, starring Michael Fassbender.

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