The New York Times's T magazine has an article about women artists whose work is on display at the Whitney biennial. Reports the Times: "Josephine Meckseper's resplendent film, shot last year at the giant Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., is a 'consumer critique on the collapse and failure of capitalism,' and incorporates military recruiting footage on display there." The Whitney Web site helpfully explains further that "Meckseper exposes the political ramifications of America's culture of consumption. In this work, Meckseper uses a video camera to explore Minneapolis's Mall of America—one of the top tourist destinations in the United States—pausing to examine window displays, sale signs, and dormant rides in its indoor amusement park. Meckseper then manipulates the footage, employing ironically patriotic red and blue filters.... The artist also turns the footage on its side and adds a vaguely sinister soundtrack. The result is an abstraction of otherwise documentary images and a sense of alienation and disorientation. The mall becomes a hostile, dangerous place." Why is it that in some circles, patriotism is always ironic? If capitalism has failed, someone should get word to all those companies advertising their pricey goods in the T magazine, and to the Whitney's board of trustees, which includes more than a few members who owe their fortunes to that "failed" system. Which is more sinister, a shopping mall or a museum that allows trustees to take the money they earned in capitalism and then spend the money on artists who will portray capitalism itself as sinster or failed?
I've got nothing against the Whitney as an institution or its trustees. Whenever I've been there, which is more often than I have been to the Mall of America, I've had a fine time looking at the art. And I haven't seen the Meckseper film. Maybe it's as resplendent as the Times says it is.