CalArtians at the 2012 Whitney Biennial: Mike Kelley, Thom Andersen, Richard Hawkins and Laida Lertxundi

Works by four CalArtians are featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, which opened earlier this month in New York. The Biennial gauges the current state of contemporary art in America with works by emerging, mid-career and established artists.

The artists from CalArts reflect that career-spanning spectrum: From recent graduate Laida Lertxundi (Film/Video MFA 07) to earlier alumni Richard Hawkins (Art MFA 88) and the late Mike Kelley (Art MFA 78) and current School of Film/Video faculty member Thom Andersen, who’s been teaching at CalArts since 1987.

Richard Hawkins shows two paintings and a collage series (in the museum’s Mildred & Herbert Lee Galleries), which were inspired by the work of Tatsumi Hijikata, the Japanese performer and choreographer who created butoh performance.

The other three artists’ films screen at the Kaufman Astoria Studios Film & Video Gallery:

  • Screenings of Laida Lertxundi’s films (A Lax Riddle Unit, 2011; Llora Cuando Te Pase / Cry When It Happens, 2010; My Tears Are Dry, 2009; Footnotes to a House of Love, 2007) are scheduled for March 28 through April 1, every hour starting at noon (Friday at 1 pm). She’ll also be in conversation with Thomas Beard, co-curator of the Biennial film program and co-founder of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, on April 1 at 4 pm.
  • Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) and Get Out of the Car (2010) screens daily from April 4-8. The first film is a nearly three-hour compilation of footage meditating the portrayal of Los Angeles in cinema; the second looks at the contemporary city from its streets in footage shot by Andersen. On April 8 at 2 pm, Andersen curates a program of Rare Los Angeles Films, followed by a conversation with former Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman.
  • Mike Kelley is represented in the Biennial with three films on his public art project Mobile Homestead, a commentary on Detroit’s social history. Screenings take place May 16-20: Mobile Homestead Christening Ceremony and Launch, September 25, 2010, 2010-11, daily at 12 pm (Friday at 2 pm); Going West on Michigan Avenue from Downtown Detroit to Westland, 2010-11, daily at 2 pm (Friday at 4 pm); and Going East on Michigan Avenue from Westland to Downtown Detroit, 2010-11, daily at 4 pm (Friday at 7 pm).

The Whitney Biennial was favorably reviewed by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith:

Possessed of a remarkable clarity of vision, a striking spatial intelligence and a generous stylistic inclusiveness, it places on an equal footing art objects and time-based art — not just video and performance art but music, dance, theater, film — and does so on a scale and with a degree of aplomb we have not seen before in this town. In a way that is at once superbly ordered and open-ended, densely structured and, upon first encounter, deceptively unassuming, the exhibition manages both to reinvent the signature show of the Whitney Museum of American Art and to offer a bit of redemption for the out-of-control, money-saturated art world.

The 2012 edition runs through May 27, with some programs continuing through June 10.

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