Her silhouettes, which I have seen before, are of course stunning and upsetting, full of fucking and killing and bitter nursing and birthing, the literal inflation and lampooning of stereotypes--
(you can't see very closely here, but for example, that's Brer Rabbit humping a baby in the lower right)
--but I was most captivated by her drawings, which I had never seen, displayed in dense clusters. I love drawings more than almost any other form--I like seeing the fluidity of the line, the pencil shadows, the notes in the margins. In the drawings she is funny and excoriating and candid. I didn't take many notes, just eye-drank them, but I wrote down this deft/offhand comment (hers) re racism:
Kind of our national pastime
Loving to hate what we hate to love
In one film, as she moves silhouettes jerkily in front of the light, a child's voice says
I think he's going to hurt me.It chilled me to the bone.
I wonder what it will feel like?
I guess this is what happened to Abby.
(8 Possible Beginnings)
One floor down, the tastefully muted gouaches and collages and taxidermied chickens of the New Acquisitions exhibit felt utterly run-of-the-mill by comparison. And What's-His-Name's I will not make boring art scrawling just read TOOL to me. But Jenny Holzer's aphorisms etched into a white marble bench had some apt wisdom:
MUCH WAS DECIDED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN.
Photos: Whitney Museum site + good New York Times article