'Looking Back’ is the third installment of the White Columns Annual. The exhibition is now an annual fixture on White Columns’ calendar. Each year an individual (e.g. an artist, a curator, a writer, etc.) is invited to make an exhibition at White Columns based on their personal experience of looking at art in New York in the previous year. For the third ‘Annual’ exhibition White Columns has invited the New York-based curator and writer Jay Sanders to select the artists and works.
In a very straightforward sense the ‘Annual’ exhibition hopes to reveal something of the complexities involved in trying to negotiate - and engage with - New York’s constantly evolving cultural landscape. The format of the exhibition inevitably encourages highly subjective and deeply personal responses to the realities of viewing art in New York (and, in Sanders’ case, a detour to Philadelphia.) The ‘Annual’ exhibition series hopes to illuminate aspects of the specific, yet highly idiosyncratic routes – geographical, intellectual, historical, social, etc. - individuals follow in an increasingly expansive and fragmented cultural environment.
Through the re-contextualization of artworks encountered in other circumstances and contexts, the exhibition hopes to establish – albeit temporarily – a new ‘narrative’, a conversation, of sorts, amongst artists and artworks, that seeks to illuminate and/or explore certain underlying tendencies, conditions, or connections that perhaps might otherwise have remained elusive or obscured. In re-thinking the (fairly) recent past the exhibition hopes to provoke something akin to a sense of deja-vu, establishing a scenario that is at once both reflective and optimistic (forward thinking.)
There are no restrictions as to what type of work can be included. ‘Looking Back’ seeks to eliminate any categorical or hierarchical distinctions we might place upon artworks (e.g. based upon the circumstances in which they were originally seen, or the seniority of an individual artist, etc.) These works might have been originally seen in exhibitions at institutions, galleries, and not-for-profit spaces, or at performances, readings, or during visits to artists’ studios, etc.
About the curator:
Jay Sanders is a New York-based curator, writer and Gallery Director at Greene Naftali. Recent projects include a film/video series curated with Paul Chan for the Lyon Biennale, the exhibition "Payday" (organized with Carol Greene and Alex Tuttle), and a dialogue with Jim O'Rourke for the book "Arcana II." He is a member of the performance collaborative "Grand Openings" which participated in the 2006 Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in Niigata, Japan and recently performed at MUMOK (Vienna) and Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival. He has written for Texte zur Kunst, Artforum, and BOMB. Sanders is currently producing a dvd of the plays of Richard Foreman, to be released in January on John Zorn's Tzadik imprint. He has organized screenings and performance events at many New York venues including Anthology Film Archives, The Stone, Tonic, and the Whitney Museum at Altria.
Writing in The New York Times in 2006 about the inaugural installment of the ‘White Columns Annual’ critic Holland Cotter said:
“The White Columns Annual does … what the Whitney Biennial used to do: it reconsiders a slice of art’s immediate past. … The idea is welcome affording a chance to linger over art that was seen earlier only in rushed visits, missed entirely or enthusiastically remembered. Maybe “White Columns Annual Pick” will have comparable cachet [to the Whitney Biennial] not so long from now.”
In 2007 Karen Rosenberg, writing in The New York Times, wrote: “The art world acquired a welcome new tradition when Matthew Higgs inaugurated the White Columns Annual.”
In late 2008 White Columns will appoint a selector for the 2009 White Columns Annual (scheduled for November/December 2009.) As the ‘Annual’ exhibition series evolves over the coming years White Columns hopes that each successive ‘Annual’ will substantially augment - and depart from - its predecessor, creating an ongoing and unfolding commentary about certain aspects of the art produced and/or exhibited in New York. (The inaugural ‘Annual’ exhibition in 2006 was selected by White Columns’ Director & Chief Curator Matthew Higgs; the second in 2007 was selected by curator Clarissa Dalrymple.)
White Columns would like to thank Jay Sanders for his commitment to this project, and all of the participating artists and their representatives for their enthusiastic response to ‘Looking Back