This display brings together a group of artists who, emerging in the late 1980s and early 1990s, were concerned to highlight issues of inequality and identity politics in their work.
Based in New York, these artists often exhibited together. Many of them were featured in the landmark 1993 Whitney Biennial - the first major exhibition survey of contemporary art where white male artists were in the minority, giving priority to artists then seen as outside the ‘mainstream’. The works in this display therefore address some of the key issues around identity and politics in the United States at that time, including racism, the AIDS crisis, feminism and economic inequalities.
Twenty years on, the artists featured here have become some of the most influential of their generation. However, the prominence of identity politics in art has subsided, owing partly to a backlash against the perceived constricting orthodoxy of ‘political correctness’. The artists themselves became ambivalent about having their work framed in a reductive manner as simply about ‘identity’, rather than within the complex variations of identity proposed by the Whitney exhibition. Nonetheless, many of the issues that concerned these artists in the 1990s remain of political concern and continue to underpin their practice.
Curated by Tanya Barson.