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Five things at the Whitney Biennial

I took a very quick trip though the current, much-praised Whitney Biennial today, and liked a lot of what I saw. Here are five of those things, in no particular order:

1. The sculpture above, by Vincent Fecteau.

"1957 No. 12 A," by Forrest Bess. Image from Whitney.org.

2. An incredibly odd room dedicated to the reclusive artist Forrest Bess, with an enthralling essay by Robert Gober (the guy behind the excellent Burchfield show "Heat Waves in a Swamp") on the depth of the artist's madness printed in full on the gallery wall. Listen to Gober talk about Bess' bizarre artistic practice in this fascinating bit of audio.

"LAST SPRING: A Prequel," by Gisele Vienne, et al. Image from Whitney.org.

3. An ominous and disturbing collaborative installation by Gisele Vienne, Dennis Cooper, Stephen O'Malley and Peter Regberg featuring an animatronic sculpture of a disturbed, hoodied young man and an accompanying narrative of his unsettling thoughts. It's very "We Need to Talk About Kevin." (Vienne, from the wall label: "We need to face horrible things, it's healthier.")

"Ankoku collage (in progress)," by Richard Hawkins. Image from Whitney.org.

4. Richard Hawkins' strange collages, which highlight the darker side of art history, especially where it intersects with sex and violence, and pays tribute to Jean Genet.

5. A open rehearsal rehearsal for Michael Clark's exuberant dance piece, in which nonprofessional dancers of all ages and body types performed a beautifully choreographed piece in a huge spaces on the Whitney's fourth floor. The final piece, the Whitney says, is "an attempt to expand what our experience of movement can be."

Honorable mention: this refreshingly honest, ever-pertinent essay (actually part of the show itself) by Andrea Fraser.

--Colin Dabkowski

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