Two Alumni Included in 2022 Whitney Biennial

January 26, 2022

Two UArts alumni, Alex Da Corte BFA ’04 (Printmaking) and Dave McKenzie BFA ’00 (Printmaking), are among the 63 artists named to the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2022 Biennial. This year’s exhibition, on view April 6 to Sept. 5, will be the 80th iteration of the series originally begun by the museum’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in 1932.

The biennial is the longest-running exhibition of its kind and takes advantage of the Whitney’s unique architecture to survey the state of contemporary American art. The upcoming edition, titled Quiet as It’s Kept, features an intergenerational group of artists with interdisciplinary perspectives. Across the museum’s fifth and sixth floors, artwork and even walls are expected to change as performances animate the galleries and objects. Rather than opt for a separate video or film program, the curators have chosen to integrate these forms into the exhibition to ensure an equal and consistent presence.

Da Corte is a native of Camden, New Jersey, and lives and works in Philadelphia. He often describes himself as an “anthropologist of the immediate past,” creating sculptures, paintings, performances and installations replete with colorful artifacts of consumer culture. His work, filled with vibrant colors and crisp advertising imagery, is often accompanied by Da Corte in costume. He has appeared as pop-culture figures such as Eminiem, Mr. Rogers, the Wicked Witch of the West and, most recently, Jim Henson.

“He’s one of the best working today,” Jamillah James, senior curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, said of Da Corte in a New York Times Magazine profile last June. “He’s maturing as an artist, refining his visual language, providing some alternatives to the horror of today with work that has some lightness to it.”

McKenzie originally hails from Kingston, Jamaica, and now lives and works in New York. As a visual artist, he leverages video, performance and text to explore how his subjects engage with and become one another. His work uncovers complex layers of meaning through simple gestures and exploration of popular culture, language and politics. He is the recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship Award and was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. McKenzie has taught and lectured at colleges and universities across the U.S. and is currently an artist-in-resident at Bard College and a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts.

Both artists have presented their compelling work at UArts, and both recently concluded significant exhibitions in New York last year. Da Corte’s whimsical sculpture “As Long as the Sun Lasts,” featuring a blue version of Sesame Street’s Big Bird sitting atop a Calder-inspired mobile, was the focal point of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop garden from the spring through the fall. In addition, several of his works were included in New Grit: Art & Philly Now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

McKenzie’s solo exhibition at the Whitney, Dave McKenzie: The Story I Tell Myself, presented his performances for the camera alongside pieces from the museum’s collection that informed the concepts, gestures and sensibilities found in his work. The exhibition was accompanied by a commissioned performance, “Disturbing the View,” in which McKenzie used the Whitney’s façade as a canvas to disrupt the institution’s daily rhythms. Following a circuitous path around the museum and obscuring windows with a squeegee, McKenzie explored the very idea of what it means to be visible.

Learn more about the Whitney Biennial.

Pictured: Dave McKenzie during a rehearsal of “Disturbing the View.” Image courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art.