The Whitney Biennial has surveyed the landscape of American art, reflecting and shaping the cultural conversation, since 1932. The eightieth edition of the landmark exhibition is co-curated by David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. Titled Quiet as It’s Kept, the 2022 Biennial features an intergenerational and interdisciplinary group of sixty-three artists and collectives whose dynamic works reflect the challenges, complexities, and possibilities of the American experience today.
Michael E. Smith works with manipulated everyday objects that he reimagines through placement and juxtaposition. Frequently precarious in condition and placed in overlooked spaces, his works evoke a variety of fragile states—physical, economic, political, and emotional. The logic of these works—an appraisal of the relationship between trash and treasure—speaks to a culture of both obscene abundance and rampant need. But Smith’s objects also teem with a sly and biting humor, a form of slapstick that uses breakdowns and stumbles to point to a culture in an ongoing state of collapse.