The other hallmark is an emphasis on the ominous and disorienting. Josephine Meckseper's video of Minneapolis's Mall of America casts the mall as a vast, forbidding, endless temple of materialism, set to a discomforting soundtrack. James Casebere depicted another common feature of the American landscape, the suburban housing development, as an alien locale, with strangely lit photos of homes that he constructed as models.
Curtis Mann's distortions of photos taken during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah were meant to cast the media's representation of war in doubt. On the other hand, Nina Berman's photos of former Marine Sergeant Ty Ziegel, severely disfigured as the result of a suicide bombing in Iraq, portray the real cost of war–and cause one to reflect on the price of a war prosecuted for dubious rationales by those who avoided military action in their youth.
In the video "Patron" by Marianne Vitale, the artist stared straight ahead and obsessively and loudly demanded that the viewers take certain absurd actions, seemingly parodying both authoritarianism and artistic movements. One exception to the focus on disorientation and provocation was the work of Suzan Frecon, whose large, abstract, contemplative shapes recall the minimalist paintings of Ellsworth Kelly.
The 2010 Whitney Biennial is on view through May 30. For further information, call (212) 570-3600 or visit www.whitney.org. In the following video, curator Francesco Bonami discusses the exhibition: