THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART in New York City is welcoming a new curator of performance. Adrienne Edwards was appointed the museum’s Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance today. She is joining the Whitney in May.

Edwards is a curator at Performa and a curator at-large at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. For the better part of a decade she has been organizing groundbreaking live programming and commissioning innovative works by artists from around the world at Performa.

“Adrienne has distinguished herself as one of the most innovative curators working in performance today by engaging artists across diverse disciplines and often challenging them to explore new genres and experimental forms,” Scott Rothkopf, deputy director for programs and chief curator at the Whitney Museum, said in a statement. “She brings to the Whitney a wonderful complement of scholarly rigor, social commitment, and a deeply humane understanding of artists and their audiences.”

“Adrienne has distinguished herself as one of the most innovative curators working in performance today by engaging artists across diverse disciplines and often challenging them to explore new genres and experimental forms.” — Scott Rothkopf, Whitney Museum

Founded in 2004, Performa identifies itself as “the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century.”

Last fall at Performa 17, Edwards coined “AFROGLOSSIA” to describe a group of distinct experimental performances by artists from throughout the African Diaspora. The new term “is a neologism that riffs off of the term polyglossia, defined as multiple languages co-existing in one area, for which the abbreviation ‘Afro’ references the incredible complexity, heterogeneity, and multiplicity that is Africa.” The programming featured interdisciplinary works by Teju Cole, Wangechi Mutu, Julie Mehretu and Jason Moran, and Tracey Rose, among others.

Edwards curated “Blackness in Abstraction” at Pace Gallery in 2016, and contributed to the new Ellen Gallagher catalog documenting the artist’s “Accidental Records” exhibition at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles earlier this year.

In April, she is organizing Moran’s first-ever solo museum show at the Walker Art Center. The exhibition will feature a full-range of the interdisciplinary artist’s works, including musical compositions, sculptural works, media installations, and his many collaborations with visual artists such as Stan Douglas, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, and Lorna Simpson.

A monograph will be produced to accompany the Moran exhibition which is traveling to ICA Boston and the Wexner Center for the Arts, at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

In May, Edwards is collaborating with Frieze, serving as curator of the new Artist Award and Live Programs at Frieze New York in Randall’s Island Park.

About her new role at the Whitney, Edwards said: “There could not be a more vital institution or more important time to foster artists’ cross-boundary work, as well as explore the histories and scenes that inspire them. The Whitney has long been a leading institution for artists’ experimentation in vanguard performance. I look forward to further expanding and driving forward this rich legacy in collaboration with colleagues, artists, and audiences in new and exciting directions.” CT


TOP IMAGE: Adrienne Edwards. | Photo by Whitney Brown


Curator Adrienne Edwards authored the catalog for “Blackness in Abstraction,” the group exhibition she organized that explored “the persistent presence of the color black in art, with a particular emphasis on monochromes, from the 1940s to today.” Edwards also contributed to “Carrie Mae Weems: The Kitchen Table Series” and Ellen Gallagher’s recent catalog “Accidental Records.”


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