Queens Museum April 10 – July 31 2016
The Queens Museum Biennial is a good show. The pieces in the exhibit successfully address topics like physical territory, migration, artistic transgression, linguistic and ideological divisions, digital and human interfaces, and prescriptive narratives of the past, present, and future.
A Third Space by Kerry Downey is an animation that explores tactile interaction with people, histories, objects, and spaces through the fluidity of colors, shapes and gestures. The video shows paper collages and drawings that derive from the physical confrontation of materials: ink and water mixing within time, pieces of paper moving with wind, while stories of obsession form an audible narrative.
The Iranian artist Shadi Haroumi shows a video called The Lightest of Stones. It was shot in an isolated mountain pumice quarry in Iranian Kurdistan. The men in the film critique the sanctions against Iran; they talk about labor, ISIS, dragons and Jennifer Lopez, while the artist is showed digging into a rocky wall with her bare hands in an impossible attempt to make a path through the mountain.
The British artist Freya Powell created Omniscience and Oblivion. A sound piece, it explores the way individual memories can speak to shared experiences. For the project, Powell created an online audio archive where participants anonymously shared one memory they would like to keep forever and one they would like to forget. Individuals were recorded reading a stranger’s memory, mediating and reconstructing as ideas disconnected from the people they once belonged.
The Biennial shows the work of artists working or living in Queens. Compared to other shows like Greater New York at MoMA PS1, it seems to have more cultural diversity. The works in the exhibition are politically engaged and address the theme of the show very coherently. The exhibition design is minimal, it has problems with works being too far apart inside the Museum, but that does not interfere in the overall good quality of the Biennial.