This time the museum has paired Francesco Bonami, 53, a seasoned Italian-born curator with an international reputation, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, 28, a homegrown senior curatorial assistant. Mr. Bonami will serve as curator for the Biennial, with Mr. Carrion-Murayari acting as associate curator.
“It seemed like a good fit on a lot of levels,” said Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s chief curator. “Francesco is well known to the Whitney” — he helped organize the Rudolf Stingel retrospective in 2007 — “and he has been thinking about and looking at biennials. Gary is about investing in a younger generation of curators. Not youth for youth’s sake but tapping into the way they see.”
These Biennials are “a monster to wrestle,” as Ms. De Salvo put it, but the Whitney also wanted a young eye involved; thus an experienced curator was matched with a greener one.
In 2007 Mr. Carrion-Murayari organized “Television Delivers People,” which focused on video works from the 1970s and ’80s and newer examples that examined the relationship between television and the viewer. A five-year Whitney veteran, he also worked on the 2004 and 2006 Whitney Biennials and helped Mr. Bonami and the Whitney curator Chrissie Iles on the installation of Mr. Stingel’s show.
This year the Biennial spilled over into the Park Avenue Armory for part of its run. At other times it has spread into Central Park. The 2010 edition, it seems, will be a more concentrated affair, occupying only the museum’s landmark Marcel Breuer home.
Unless the curators find a special project that requires another sort of space. “I want to stretch the building’s dimensions,” Mr. Bonami said. “Sometimes Biennials go all over the place. This one will be more specific.”
Although the curators won’t start visiting artists’ studios around the country until January, and at this early stage they haven’t decided whether the Biennial will have a particular theme, they are already starting to focus on certain ideas.
“I grew up around the world of globalism,” said Mr. Bonami, who in 2003 became the first American citizen to direct a Venice Biennale and who recently organized “Italian Art Between Tradition and Revolution: 1968-2008,” which is on view through March 22 at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. “It was a time, around 1992-93, when there were no boundaries. But now my challenge is to reflect on the idea of Americanness. Setting these parameters, these limitations could be an advantage.”
Mr. Carrion-Murayari said the notion of globalism, which was important in past Biennials, feels dated. “We’ve gotten beyond that,” he said. “It’s not so much an argument anymore.”
Both curators said that their decision to concentrate on the Breuer building rather than consider other locations was not about keeping budgets low because of the current economic climate, adding that there might actually be a benefit to being focused and in one place.
The two men also said they were considering weaving works from the Whitney’s holdings into the Biennial, which would be a departure.
“We have talked about using the permanent collection,” Mr. Carrion-Murayari said. “We definitely want to consider it.”