STP News Biennial
Written by Maya Kotomori
Welcome to the STP News Biennial! Last October, the Whitney Museum of American Art announced that they would postpone their Biennial to 2022 due to the pandemic. Instead of waiting, we’re doing our own! Not only is February Black History Month, it is also full of some iconic yearly awards shows, like the Academy Awards (this year postponed to April 25) and the BAFTA Awards, set to occur the customary two weeks before the Oscars. In true awards show host fashion, I would like to present North West with the uber-prestigious trophy for Best Painting Ever Created. Looking forward to hearing an acceptance speech - our people will be in touch with your people. With that aside, the STP News Biennial is not an art show. Did I need to google what ‘biennial’ means? Yes! Will we be hosting another one in two years? I don’t know!
Beyond the work, the Whitney Biennial is an opportunity for the institution to place emphasis on a unified curational point of view - the STP News Biennial seeks to do the same. As the curator, I’m choosing to focus on pieces of journalism that are on some Walter Cronkite shit.
Speaking of the past, pop icon Britney Spears re-entered family dinner discourse due to the latest episode from The New York Times Presents series on Hulu, titled ‘Framing Britney Spears’. 75 minutes of pure emotion, the narrative told in ‘Framing Britney’ has you ready to put a hit out on daddy Spears himself. Apparently, Brit has spent 13 years a slave; locked in a court-appointed conservatorship, where her father, Jamie Spears, has complete oversight over the pop star’s career, her earnings, and even her public appearances. Not only did ‘Framing Britney’ remind us of Perez Hilton’s evil and send out a dog whistle toTwitter for a public guillotining of Daddy Spears, it also reinvigorated every bad thing Justin Timberlake has ever done. One tongue-in-cheek plot point in the documentary was Timberlake’s and Brit’s y2k relationship. That album inspired one of the most well produced pop albums of all time, in addition to inspiring a Medusa-like depiction of Britney Spears in the media. In light of the documentary, JT apologized on Friday, February 12 for reaping the benefits of Britney’s character assasination, even mentioning how he ‘failed’ her and Janet Jackson, referring to Jackson and Timberlake’s iconic 2004 Superbowl wardrobe malfunction. The sheer nebula of fan drama, legal implications, and pop-girl nostalgia is why this piece of Britney journalism is the first to grace the STP News Biennial.
A third hot blonde (apart from myself) is featured in this Biennial, and that’s Anna Nicole Smith. ABC honored the 14th anniversary of her death on February 8th with a 20/20 episode entitled Tragic Beauty: Anna Nicole Smith. The episode features Smith’s daughter Dannielynn Birkhead, who was left without her biological mother just five months after her birth. In the documentary, Dannielynn and her father, Larry Birkhead, travel around Texas to visit sentimental places for Smith as a means to celebrate her legacy and build a connection. Not only could the teenage Dannielynn be the late Smith’s twin, but the amount of tears shed in the process of depicting the new perspective of Anna Nicole’s career busted my heart wide open. Apart from the fact that she looks really good next to Britney Spears, Miss Anna Nicole Smith’s anniversary documentary earned its way into the Biennial for sheer emotional merit.
Like Dana Schutz’s ‘Open Casket’ in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, you always need a controversial call, so let’s talk about Sia’s new “film” called Music (2021). Dance Moms darling Maddie Ziegler, aka Sia’s no-longer-underaged child proxy, starred in this really bad movie, which has come under fire for portraying the neuroatypical community in a stereotypical light.
Apart from the large amounts of offense I took with most of the content in the film, I think it would be really great as one of those films you put on in that really dark room in an art museum, in between two really canonical works, like a Nan Goldin slideshow or a Pope L performance recording. I would also definitely include Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’ music video from 2014, just to really show Maddie’s range and to capitalize on the weird Shia LaBeouf drama from back then.
In addition to Maddie Ziegler saying that Shia Labeouf smelled bad on set that one time, Shia Labeouf is, like, a real abuser now. On February 17th, ELLE Magazine coverstar FKA twigs shared a more detailed recounting of the events leading up to her escape from former partner Shia, which were initially brought into the public eye this past December. The next day, an interview between twigs and Gayle King furthered the discussion on partner abuse. Due to the length of this affair, twigs and her team are playing the long game with her very public, very yas-kween recovery from this whole situation! Production creds are warranted; if this situation were physically in the Biennial, it would be a really big, personal, and immersive installation designed for audience interaction.
Alas, we’ve covered everything newsworthy that I’ve collected over the past two weeks for the Biennial. If this pop culture segment says anything, it’s that I should never be given any curatorial power - ever.