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Josh Kline at the Whitney

Josh Kline, Thank You for Your Years of Service (Joann : Lawyer), 2016. © Josh Kline, courtesy the artist, Stuart Shave:Modern Art, London & 47 Canal, New York, NY

Josh Kline: Project for a New American Century, on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art from April 19 through August 13, 2023, is the first mid-career survey of Josh Kline’s work by an American museum. The exhibition offers a thematic examination of over fifteen years of the artist’s work, including a major new installation that will debut at the Whitney and projects that have never been seen before in New York. Kline is best known for creating immersive installations using video, sculpture, photography, and design to question how emergent technologies are changing human life in the twenty-first century. One of the leading artists of his generation, Kline is unique among his peers in directly confronting class, labor, and inequity in the United States today.

Featuring more than a hundred works and installed across two floors of exhibition space, Josh Kline: Project for a New American Century addresses a range of societal concerns, including the dehumanizing nature of work, the effects of automation on the entire labor force, the precarious nature of individual health in the U.S., and the weakening of democracy in an era of extreme income inequality. The exhibition features new work by the artist and serves as the New York debut for his latest and most urgent projects addressing the climate crisis and its consequences. The survey will also feature important elements from his ongoing cycle of installations focused on the defining issues of the twenty-first century, imagining how they will shape the next one hundred years of society. In an era defined by escalating crises, Kline’s work offers both a visceral warning and a call for a more human future.

“Josh Kline has had the uncanny ability to hone in on the most important issues of the day and create art that is disturbingly urgent,” says Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum. “Watching the magnetic attraction of viewers to his work is astonishing: they are simultaneously enraptured, bewildered, and repulsed. Kline’s art is radical, uncompromising, and looks unblinkingly at the possible future.”

Josh Kline: Project for a New American Century is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, former Nancy and Fred Poses Curator at the Whitney and current Chief Artistic Director at the Horizon Art Foundation and Outland Art, with McClain Groff, Curatorial Project Assistant.

Kline envisions the entire exhibition as a series of immersive environments. Organized across ten rooms, Project for a New American Century features groundbreaking and influential early series as well as chapters from the artist’s ongoing and as-yet-untitled cycle of installations developed over the past decade. The cycle examines potential future scenarios and how they might shape humanity. Rather than attempting to make accurate predictions, Kline explores the pressing concerns of today and tomorrow through science fiction. For the Whitney show, he will debut a new project from the cycle, a room-size installation about climate-driven migration.

“Throughout his artistic career, Kline has taken a hard look at how we live and work in the twenty-first century,” said Christopher Y. Lew. “This was apparent in his early works and it is evermore clear in his new ambitious installations made in response to climate change. It has been thrilling to follow his practice over more than a decade and it’s a great privilege to organize his major mid-career survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art.”

“I have lived in New York since 2002 and make artwork that responds to national and global events as I see and experience them as a New Yorker; however, much of my work has never been exhibited here,” said the artist. “It means so much to show this work in the city where it was conceived, at this time, and at the Whitney Museum of American Art. I can’t wait to bring it all home to NYC and to have a very intense conversation with the public about America’s past, present, and future.”

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