photocredit: Filip Wolak
Performance Whitney Museum of American Art, May 13-18th, 2015
The institutions of chronological time are museums. Things they collect are at the same time taken out of time and preserved forever. It’s all right here. What is also here is the inevitable incoherencies, the ruptures, the surprise, the repetition. The times lived and loving, the pain and the loss felt, courageous vulnerability, inevitable politics. Artworks like these are prisms reflecting time. Bodies like yours are prisms reflecting life. It’s all right here. No longer out of time, but with time. Inviting us patiently and persistently to be present.
In Time Tenderness is a performance addressing the complex politics of time within the context of cultural institutions. Examining the potential of the body and language, the work starts out by looking at the role of women in the foundation of art museums and asks why their vital contribution is continuously unaccounted for. From here it examines the way in which these modes of collective forgetting are also applied to other communities, events, historic facts etc. Through speeches, movement and song within the galleries/exhibitions of the museum, the work opens up a space to contemplate these questions collectively with the audience. The work insists on the potential of reconciling time in dialogue with art works, their presence and absence of the voices they materialize within institutions, with the aim to recognize the museum as a site in which meaning is actively and continuously created.
Commissioned for the inauguration of the Whitney Museums of American Art’s new building and performed in the exhibition: “America is Hard to See” the work, Time Tenderness utilizes the potent moment of the inauguration of the new building as a site with and without history. The performance is aimed to open up the institution’s past, present and potent future with the implication of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s visionary belief that any country needs culture and art to recognize and foster its own identity.
Performers: Omagbitse Omagbemi, Lily Gold, Jess Barbagallo
Choreography: Andrea Geyer
Song: Lauren Denitzio
Lyrics: Andrea Geyer
Excerpts from performance script
Excerpt of poems
Lyrics and audio recording of song
Additional performance stills
Avis Berman, Rebels on Eigth Street: Juliana Force and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Atheneum, 1990.
Flora Biddle, excerpts from dedication speech of the Whitney Museum of American Art, April 30th, 2015
Wendy Brown, Politics Out of History. Princeton University Press, 2001.
B.H. Friedman, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: A Biography. Doubleday, 1978.
Fred Moten, Hand Up To Your Ear, from Protocols for the Sound of Freedom by Ultra-red, for the performance Ultra Red: What is the Sound of Freedom, The Whitney Museum, 2012.
Michelle Obama, excerpts from dedication speech for the Whitney Museum of American Art, April 30th, 2015
Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, Diary, Paris. Brown University Library, Center for Digital Scholarship, 1922.
De W.C. Ward, Poor Little Rich Girl and Her Art; Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney's Struggles to Be Taken Seriously as a Sculptor Without Having Starved in a Garret, The New York Times, November 9, 1919.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, The End of America’s Apprenticeship in Art, published in Arts and Decoration, 1920.