Several Columbia Artists Feature in 2024 Whitney Biennial

By
Mădălina Telea Borteș
February 09, 2024

Several School of the Arts alumni and faculty will feature in this year’s Whitney Biennial, Even Better Than the Real Thing, which opens on March 20, 2024. 

Whereas the 2022 rendition of the Biennial, Quiet As It’s Kept, resisted a unified theme, opting instead for labyrinthine approaches to the global and national upheavals of 2020, this year’s thematic focus centers ideas of ‘the real’ through a series of works that “explore the fluidity of identity and form, historical and current land stewardship, and concepts of embodiment.”

“Society is at an inflection point around this notion, in part brought on by artificial intelligence challenging what we consider to be real, as well as critical discussions about identity,” Chrissie Iles and Meg Onli, this year’s organizing curators, expressed. 

Two Visual Arts alumni in particular, Korakrit Arunanondchai ’12 and Kiyan Williams ’19 produce works at the intersection of historical stewardship, embodiment, and form. In his large-scale video installation and performance works, Arunanondchai utilizes history as an anchor and matrix of experience, drawing specific attention to the interrelationality between the physical and spiritual, the felt and the visual. Williams makes use of organic material, such as soil, to render the body as well as the body politic and its artifacts into large sculptural forms that draw direct, tangible links to the ecosystem of lived experience. 

“It is striking how many artists are contending with relationships between the psyche and the body, and the precarity of the past few years,” the exhibition’s curators noted.

The interplay between the psyche and the body has underpinned the artistic practices of Visual Arts alumni Julia Phillips ’15 and ektor garcia ’16. Phillips utilizes sculpture and metaphor to punctuate the somatic facets of the female body, whereas Garcia employs metalwork, textiles, and ceramics to create visceral sculptural forms that explore ideas of submission and control. 

Advance tickets for the eighty-first installment of the Whitney Biennial are now available for purchase online