Detail from Ahihiko Miyoshi's Abstract Photograph 2011
Disjecta has announced the list for their Portland2012 Biennial (curated by Prudence Roberts and opening on February 26th) with lots of artists that have already established their reputations in town and a few names like Ahihiko Miyoshi who haven't.
Wendy Red Star
Future Death Toll
Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen (yes it was signed into law last year that RyAnna must be in every group show in the Northwest)
Overall, it looks like a solid list but breaking up the venues (like last time) does diffuse coherency as well keep it from making more definitive arguments. 24 artists also makes it a bit of a grab bag with 5 more artists than the Portland2010, which seemed to have everyone in it. Here's a general discussion of the problems that regional survey's face and Ive always felt that any more than 16 artists turns a group show into an advertisement for the institution rather than a considered look at the component artists.
We will see how well the show is executed in February as these group shows seem to overwhelm most curators, especially when they haven't worked with the spaces before. One question that remains, is this just a social event used to ingratiate Disjecta amongst area artists? (their seemingly perma-grinning director has earned a bit of a difficult reputation and some wont touch the venue with a 10 foot pole) or does this survey actually provide a new platform to launch careers, promote greater understanding and bring new names to the scene? The now defunct Oregon Biennial at PAM (last held in 2006) definitely launched careers and made a point of discovering people. In fact that "ladder" is what many see as missing. Once again, execution matters and that is all we should care about. It has been a long time since group shows mattered as much as solo shows have in Portland. Lastly, the time frame for prep seems extremely compressed, artists require at least 6 months to prepare new work and more is better.
Overall, doing an institutionally driven regional survey that captures the energy yet doesn't seem like old news in a scene this active and self reliant is tough but I'm glad they have made a point of focusing on programming a great deal more in the last 3 years. Before that they were simply too much talk.
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