As an artist who had been on the receiving end of studio visits from would-be curators in the past and felt some irritation with the mystery enshrouding the process, Grabner took pains to be as transparent as possible. “The stakes are so high for an artist that being rejected is a hard thing,” says Grabner, who in the exhibition catalogue included graphics showing how many studios she visited, the division between men and women, and their average age, among other stats.
Grabner, who was the curator of the 2016 Portland Biennial and is currently co-organizing the new Cleveland Triennial, titled “FRONT,” is now rethinking that approach. “I’m less sure that everything has to be an open book,” she says. “By keeping the selection process a little more opaque, it allows us as artists or viewers to insert our own understanding as to why these artists are included. That’s something I’m considering now.”
Grabner’s stint as a Whitney Biennial curator undoubtedly helped her to secure subsequent curatorial gigs. “I was able to work with a big institution, get my catalogue essay in on time, work with registrars,” she says. For Carrion-Murayari, who was hired by the New Museum
shortly after the 2010 biennial, his Whitney credit likely helped to make him an attractive choice to co-organize the 2018 New Museum Triennial with Alex Gartenfeld from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami
If only the two endeavors felt more related, Carrion-Murayari muses. “Having the whole world as your purview is a very different experience than America,” he says of the broad parameters of his New Museum Triennial mandate.
“Cities in America are different, but it’s nothing compared to things in other countries where the art world just doesn’t function in the same way. It’s really night and day.”