Controversy At The Biennial…



So is this how you get into the Whitney Biennial and become famous? If I had known I would have posed as someone else years ago. But what gets me is the fact that it has gotten so much attention and the person who is benefiting the most is artist Joe Scanlan.

Joe Scanlan has created/invented a female African American artist by the name of Donelle Woolford. He hired actresses to portray her, built her a body of work and has made her much more interesting than if he had just remained himself. I personally find the whole idea fascinating. Artists have been inventing pseudo names/ personalities forever. There was a time (and still is) when many a female painter would have to pose as a man just to have the freedom to paint, let alone be taken seriously. But Donelle Woolford isn’t met without controversy from the group YAM (HowDoYouSayYaminAfrican?) at the Whitney.

Personally I agree with both sides. I suppose that’s the gemini in me. I totally understand what its like to be underrepresented or not at all (that’s my just because theory) as well as coming up with a cleaver idea and achieving huge recognition. But then again by YAM withdrawing from the Biennial draws attention to and adds to Scalans credibility. So it becomes a double edge sword. I will not be surprised if he gets a one person show at Gagosian in the not too distant future.



About cherylgross

Illustrator and author of the Z Factor. Professor Pratt Institute and Bloomfield College. Motion graphic collaborations with poet Nicelle Davis include: In The Circus Of You, Becoming Judas and The Poster Reads; ACTIVE SHOOTER EVENT, travel the video poetry festival circuit. See resume at for other accomplishments.
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2 Responses to Controversy At The Biennial…

  1. rob Kimmel says:

    It’d be a great concept for someone other than a white man to try to pull off. He sounds like a jackass.

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