“Assembling an overview of American art these
days is a fool’s errand—America is constant expansion,” wrote
43-year-old Anthony Elms,
associate curator at University
of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Contemporary Art and one-third of this year’s Whitney Biennial
curatorial team. Deciding to devote his floor in some part to the 1966-built
Breuer building, the museum’s home only for a few more months, Elms asked a
question the architect, Marcel Breuer
, asked himself: “What should a
museum look like, a museum in Manhattan?” He looked to answer this question
through the work of 24 artists and groups, from Charlemagne Palestine
’s sculpture and sound installations carrying
through the building’s stairwells to Charline von Heyl
’s epic wall of black-and-white collaged drawings—all
making up the second floor of the concrete building. We posed five questions to
Elms, encompassing subjects from curatorial tools to Twitter.
Artsy: Can you describe one
or two works that are the centerpiece(s) of your floor, or that anchor a theme
or underpinning—visual or conceptual—in some way?
Anthony Elms: All the
artists I reached out to are equally centerpieces in their own right. In that
spirit, the artists not installed on my floor in a fixed manner: Robert
Ashley and Alex Waterman
, Miguel Gutierrez, Angie Keefer, Zoe Leonard
, Taisha Paggett, and Charlemagne Palestine,
need to be kept in consideration relative to the works on my floor.
Artsy: This is the last
year the Whitney Biennial will take place in the Breuer building. Did this
influence your selection process at all and if so, how?
AE: It is also, don’t
forget, my first time working in the Breuer
. So I was inspired working
in the building, as I’ve always been inspired visiting the building. Breuer’s
initial notes on the building are quite amazing, providing many interesting
questions or ideas with which to head out. I chose people I think are
remarkable who I think deserve to be considered in those galleries and with
Artsy: Can you offer a
Tweetable line about your floor that you would want someone like the New
York Times’ Roberta Smith (or another notable art critic) to release to the
AE: I never read Tweets,
except @KanyeWest and @KimKierkegaardashian.
Artsy: What is your most
important “tool” as a curator and why?
AE: Well, my glasses,
naturally, and good support teams. It takes a lot of dedicated people to make
Artsy: What’s next for you?
AE: I am overseeing the
exhibition Ruffneck Constructivists that Kara Walker
curated for the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Concurrently I am readying and keeping eyes on running the five programs I’ve
selected for our marathon [email protected]
And of course the many performances I
scheduled for the Whitney.