UPDATE added 2/28/2012. See my addition after the quoted text. –smidgeonpress
I would like to thank the Whitney Museum for their statement, and subsequent apology to participating artists, regarding their decision to sever corporate sponsorships from Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank. Generally when a public entity (like a museum) decides to sever financial ties with sponsors over ethical or political issues, it is done quickly and shyly, with little more than an allusion to the reasons behind the decision. The Whitney Museum’s statement about their decision is explicit, and their public apology to the artists participating in the Biennial is heartening. I hope that the art world allows the Whitney Museum’s decision serve as an example of how to handle these unpleasant situations in the future.
I suggest you click the link at the top and read the entire statement from the Whitney Museum, but I will leave you with my favorite tidbit, from the apology to the participating artists:
… the Whitney also recognizes that some donors and sponsors may seek to use their partnership with the Museum to whitewash their image and to hide the social costs of unchecked capital accumulation behind a façade of charity. These sponsors seek to capitalize on the creativity, intelligence, and culture brought into the world by contemporary artists even as the sponsors make that world unlivable. The Whitney recognizes that many emerging artists cannot refuse to participate in a major museum show without endangering their careers, and so apologizes deeply to the participating artists for allowing them to be exploited by the former sponsors in this manner.
UPDATE: I’m grieved to announce that the above statement allegedly from the Whitney Museum was a fake. The art world really is a cruel, dark, money-driven pit that exploits the people on the lower rungs of the ladder. It was such a beautiful, bold, and moving statement–it was too good to be true.
I applaud whoever orchestrated the hoax, however, for igniting that brief spark of hope. For a day, I got to believe that the world could be a better, richer, and more honest place because of art and the institutions that support and foster artists in America.
Here is the scoop from the New York Times Art Beat: Whitney Biennial Punk’d By Patricia Cohen. Excuse me while I go nurse my disappointment.