‘Be Comfortable With Not Knowing Everything’: How a Mysterious Whitney Biennial Confronts Our Anxious Moment

This week, Artnet News's National Art Critic Ben Davis joins the podcast to discuss the preeminent showcase of contemporary art.

Jacky Connolly, still from Descent into Hell, 2021. Multichannel HD video, color, sound; 33:57 min. Courtesy the artist

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more, with input from our own writers and editors, as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.



It’s biennial season in a big biennial year. Venice opens next week, the Toronto Biennial is underway, and just around the corner are the German heavyweights: the Berlin Biennale and Documenta (which is actually a quinquennial, but who’s counting).

This would be an exciting time in any year. But 2022 has the added dimension of promising to bring people together after a devastating couple of pandemic years, as Cecilia Alemani, the curator of this year’s Venice Biennale, recently discussed on this very podcast

Today’s episode is dedicated to another sprawling show near and dear to our hearts: the 2022 edition of the Whitney Biennial. Titled “Quiet As Its Kept,” the show, curated by Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin, is dominated by time-based work, so you’ll have to have some patience. 

“How much you like the show is going to depend a little bit on how much time you care to put into it,” Artnet News’s National Art Critic, Ben Davis, said.

A signature offering of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the biennial tries to live up to its full name by offering a snapshot of what artists have been making, thinking, and feeling. But of course, the entire notion of “American artist” has been redefined in recent years, and this year’s edition casts a wide net, bringing in artists from Mexico, First Nations creators from Canada, and at least one who is in the process of becoming an American citizen.

“This is self-consciously a show about what being an American might mean now,” Davis said.

This week, Davis joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss the mysterious and moving works on view. 


Listen to other episodes:

‘They’ve Created Perceived Value Out of Thin Air’: The Whole Bored Ape Yacht Club Phenomenon, Explained

‘You Can Absorb the Traumas of the Time, But Also Open Up to the Future’: Cecilia Alemani on Curating Her Venice Biennale For an Anxious Era

‘Assimilating Is Very Dehumanizing’: How Afghanistan’s Artists Are Making Their Way in Exile

‘Visibility Means Survival’: How the Art World in Ukraine’s Besieged Capital Is Fighting Back

‘You Tell Me Your First Five Exhibits, I Can Tell You 20 Years Into the Future How Much Your Work Will Be Selling’: How To Become a Successful NFT Artist

The Art Angle Podcast: Marina Abramović on How Her Artistic Method Can Change Your Life

The Art Angle Podcast: Jennie C. Jones on Why You Should Listen to Her Paintings

The Art Angle Podcast: The Black Art Visionary Who Secretly Built the Morgan Library

The Art Angle Podcast: How Lucy Lippard and a Band of Artists Fought U.S. Imperialism

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