The Whitney Museum of American Art has tapped two curators with vastly different profiles to helm its 2024 Biennial exhibition: Chrissie Iles, a longtimer at the museum, and Meg Onli,who was most recently director and curator of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles.
The museum’s director, Adam D. Weinberg, said he was struck by the fact that Iles’s and Onli’s “chemistry is great,” in part because they represent different “generational viewpoints.” Iles is in her 60s, and Onli in her 30s.
“Listening to them talk together is thoroughly engaging,” Weinberg said. “I think the biennial will give us the chance to observe the result of a really wonderful conversation.”
Iles joined the museum in 1997, focusing on film and video. This will be her third biennial — she was a co-curator of the 2004 and 2006 editions. Scott Rothkopf, chief curator of the Whitney, who has made a point of tapping in-house candidates for the biennial, said, “I just loved the idea of inviting someone back to this signature exhibition.”
“We’ve moved downtown, the art world has changed, but so has Chrissie,” Rothkopf continued. He pointed to Iles’s most recent exhibition, “Mountain/Time,”which took place this summer at the Aspen Art Museum and explored Indigenous and Black geographies, as an example of her shifting interests.
Onli’s ongoing dialogue with Iles, work with very contemporary artists, and deep knowledge of the histories of Black film and video made her an ideal collaborator, Rothkopf said.
Before the Underground Museum, Onli was at the ICA Philadelphia, where she organized “Colored People Time” in 2019 and co-curated the 2021 retrospective of the video and performance artist Ulysses Jenkins, among other projects. In 2021, she was the inaugural recipient of the Figure Skating Award, given by the art space co-founded by Virgil Abloh for advancing racial justice in the arts.