THE ARTISTS’ VOICE: For this year’s installment of the Whitney Houston Biennial, founder Christine Finley has lined up 125 female artists.
Running through March 29 at chashama at XOCO at 325 West Broadway in Manhattan, the all-women show features art, poetry readings, dance performances and guided tours.
For this go-round, Finley has asked participating artists to select a female pioneer who inspires them to accompany their work of art, “thereby expanding the show through generations of inspiring women who came before them.” Finley said she first came up with the idea in 2014, after imagining she were tapped as the curator of the Whitney Biennial and deciding she would show three floors of women artists. “When I told this to my friend, the artist Eddy Segal, she immediately joked, ‘The Whitney Houston Biennial!’ We laughed like crazy, but I also realized that I had to do it,” Finley said.
The original plan for the 2017 installment was to feature 48 to 55 artists, but after totaling everything up, she wound up with 125. “With everything, all the poetry readings, performances and film screening, we are 167 female artists in the exhibition. I am really into the political paintings of Haley Hughes, and a large photo by Natalee Cayton and sculpture by Angel Favorite,” she said.
Segal has created one of the more unusual looks of the show. Her “A Spell That Binds” is her mother’s wedding dress, painted and sewn with images of talismans and spirit science symbols, as well as the artist’s own stories of love and loss.
Finley said, “The show’s title not only playfully addresses the traditional (and concurrent) exhibit held at the Whitney Museum, but also honors a strong and brilliant lady, five years since her untimely passing.”
Houston will also be spotlighted during next month’s Tribeca Film Festival in Nick Broomfield’s documentary “Whitney: Can I Be Me.” Another filmmaker, Kevin Macdonald, is at work on another documentary about the six-time Grammy winner, who died in 2012. And singer Deborah Cox will release “I Will Always Love You,” covering some of Houston’s hits, like “I’m Every Woman” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”