Aleksandra Mir

HELLO Whitney

NEW YORK—HELLO Whitney (from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to Whitney Houston) was originally conceived for and welcomed as my participation in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. I wanted to stretch this version of HELLO between art world royalty and pop star trash, art world trash and pop star royalty. A collaboration with the enthusiastic in-house librarian uncovered photographs from the museum's own archive and documented history. I was especially fascinated by images of openings with famous artists through the ages, hoping to link them up with my own present day art world, to involve my own peers, many of whom were participating in the same show that year. My underlying objective was to see ourselves in the context of our elders, to see the same rituals being performed over and over again, while the dress code and the art on the walls changes. Think Louise Nevelson with an insane hairdo and grand makeup! I also found plenty of informal images in the archives of artists vacationing in The Hamptons, artists in their studios, artists debating and partying, artist who veer in and out of fame, surrounded by their wider social context of family and lovers, most of them long forgotten

The immensely labor-intensive process of searching through this type of collection is only offset by my love for archives in general, the very idea that someone cares and collects historical materials for future generations to use is a mind blowing proposal. And as with any archive, most of the materials remains unseen forever. Doing this kind of physical work (as opposed to trusting google to do it for you), of even uncovering a single forgotten hardcopy image and exposing it to the public view and daylight, I thought of myself as a worm creating a small tunnel of oxygen in a world of otherwise dark compact soil. But as often happens with my proposals, bureaucracy kills. The work was canceled at an advanced stage of research by the museum's own legal team who would not create a fair-use provision for me, and preferred to see the materials remain in the dark rather than deal with copyright issues on my behalf. The work was cancelled and my contribution to the Biennial that year was NO SMOKING