About Study Sessions:
Study Sessions is an ongoing event series inspired by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s notion of study as “what you do with other people.” For each Study Session, an artist, writer, or cultural worker selects a work of art on view in the Whitney’s permanent collection galleries as a departure point for thinking through an urgent question in our contemporary political landscape.
About the project:
For my study session, I have selected "UNTITLED" 1989, by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose work continues to be a source of inspiration for me. In this moment, I feel particularly connected to the ways in which his work implicated the viewer within institutional environments. The manner in which he simultaneously demands accountability and afforded agency to his audience — both within the context of contemporary art and the world at large — feels more timely than ever. This piece is currently on view in the exhibition, An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017. More information about the work can be found here.
During the study session we will attempt to answer the impossible question:
If Felix were still with us, ______ ?
To this end, I am making a new interactive sculpture directly in response to "UNTITLED", focused particularly on the Whitney Museum’s current home in the Meatpacking District, adjacent to the Hudson River. With a long storied history as a former haven for queer and trans people of color, this part of New York City has undergone a dramatic transformation with the Whitney’s arrival. In consideration of this, I will be challenging participants to ponder who and what gets removed/displaced/erased/left behind.
This sculpture, made up of a constellation of ninety-nine smaller works, will collectively be titled Two Thousand Seventeen (Portrait of Future Felix), 2018.
During the study session, participants will be invited to help me “assemble” the various components of this piece, pause for a brief reflection upon its completion, and then disassemble it forever, echoing the type of impermanence emblematic of Gonzalez-Torres’s works.
In anticipation of this project at The Whitney, I am making the components of the piece available exclusively to a small group of people who have been supportive of my work in the past. All of the funds raised from these advanced sales will go directly towards the production of Two Thousand Seventeen (Portrait of Future Felix). I have set up a private page on this website where you can view a mockup of each of the components that comprise the complete work.
The page can be accessed using this password: whitney2018