Skip to content
Bas Jan Ader

Looking Back / The 11th White Columns Annual - Selected by Anne Doran

Participating artists include: 

Bas Jan Ader, Hilton Als, Sara Cwynar, Raoul De Keyser, Sara Deraedt, Liz Deschenes, Thornton Dial, William Eggleston, Nicole Eisenman, John Farris, Luigi Ghirri, Silvia Gruner, Marcia Hafif, David Hammons, Leslie Hewitt, Denzil Hurley, Susan Te Kahurangi King, Kinke Kooi, William Leavitt, Zoe Leonard, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Carol Rama, Jessi Reaves and Robert Bittenbender, Cameron Rowland, Fred Sandback, Melvin Way.

White Columns is pleased to announce “Looking Back”, the eleventh installment of the White Columns Annual. For the past eleven years the exhibition has been a fixture on White Columns’ calendar. Each year, an individual or a collaborative team (e.g. an artist, a curator, a writer, etc.) is invited to organize an exhibition based on their personal experiences with art in New York during the previous year. For the eleventh ‘Annual’ exhibition artist and writer Anne Doran has made this year’s selection.

In a very straightforward way, the ‘Annual’ exhibitions hope to reveal something of the complexities involved in trying to negotiate - and engage with – New York’s constantly shifting cultural landscape. The format of the exhibition inevitably encourages highly subjective and personal responses to the realities of viewing art in New York. The ‘Annual’ exhibition series hopes to illuminate aspects of the specific, yet highly idiosyncratic networks – historical, social, aesthetic, etc. – that individuals follow in an expansive and increasingly fragmented cultural environment.

Through the re-contextualization of artworks encountered in other circumstances and contexts, the exhibition hopes to establish – albeit temporarily – a new ‘narrative’, a conversation, of sorts, amongst both artists and artworks that seeks to illuminate and/or explore certain underlying tendencies or connections that might otherwise have remained elusive or obscured. In re-thinking aspects of the (fairly) recent past the exhibition hopes to provoke something akin to a sense of déjà vu, establishing a scenario that is at once both reflective and forward thinking.
There are no restrictions as to what type of work can be included. The “Annual” exhibitions seek to eliminate any categorical or hierarchical distinctions we might place upon artworks (e.g. based upon the circumstances in which they were originally seen, or the seniority of an individual artist, etc.) The works included in the exhibition might have originally been encountered in exhibitions at galleries, not-for-profit spaces, or during visits to artists’ studios, etc.

Reviewing curator Bob Nickas’ ‘Annual’ in 2010, Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times:
“One of the things that makes the White Columns annuals so valuable is that they often include artists … who are unlikely to find their way into mainstream institutions. A second, equally important function that “Looking Back” serves, or should serve, is to provide a view of contemporary art that is not entirely determined by art-industry consensus – meaning the market – but rather is seen through a single informed, idiosyncratic, even resistant sensibility.”
Previous Selectors for the White Columns Annuals
The inaugural ‘Annual’ exhibition in 2006 was selected by White Columns’ Director Matthew Higgs; the second in 2007 was selected by independent curator Clarissa Dalrymple; the third in 2008 was selected by curator and writer Jay Sanders; the fourth in 2009 was selected by Miriam Katzeff and James Hoff of Primary Information; the fifth in 2010 by curator and writer Bob Nickas; the sixth in 2011 was selected by the artists Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss; the seventh in 2012/13 was selected by Artists Space curator Richard Birkett; the eighth in 2013/14 was selected by independent curator Pati Hertling; the ninth in 2015 was selected by Cleopatra’s– Bridget Donahue, Bridget Finn, Colleen Greenan, and White Columns’ Deputy Director and Curator Erin Somerville; the tenth in 2016 was selected by White Columns’ Director Matthew Higgs. The selector for the next Annual - to be held in January/February 2018 - will be announced shortly.