Karyn Olivier: Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than the Real: Whitney Museum, New York

March 20 - August 11, 2024
Installation Views
Press release

We are pleased to announce the opening of the Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than the Real Thing, which includes two works by Karyn Olivier. Co-organized by Chrissie Iles and Meg Onli the biennial returns to the Whitney for its eighty-first installment, opening to the public on March 20, 2024.

Karyn Olivier’s artistic practice merges multiple histories and collective memory with present-day narratives. Through the slight manipulation of familiar objects and spaces, such as coffee tables, playground slides, or grocery stores, the artist re-contextualizes the viewer’s relationship to the ordinary. Questioning what we presume to be the function or facts of an object or space, she asks us to reconcile memory with conventional meanings, ultimately revealing contradictions as well as new possibilities and ideas. Olivier’s work often reflects on public versus private space, recalling communal nostalgias connected to social and physical experiences and how those phenomena relate to inclusivity and acceptance.

How we interact with and dissect conflicting narratives and their representation in art are core elements of Olivier’s practice. Actively engaged in reinterpreting the role of monuments, the artist has created both temporary and permanent sculptures and installations for the public. With recurring themes of absence, invisibility and displacement, often embedded in the viewing experience itself, the artist intervenes in ‘blind spots’ — unseen and unconsidered spaces — drawing attention to the periphery. Tethering the formidable and fragile, melancholy and hope, Olivier’s work echoes the tension that exists in our shifting personal and civic lives.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1968, and raised in the United States, Olivier received an M.F.A from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a B.A. at Dartmouth College.



Installation view of Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than the Real Thing (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 20- August 11, 2024). From left to right: Takako Yamaguchi, Proxy, 2022; Takako Yamaguchi, Clasp, 2022; Takako Yamaguchi, Formula, 2023; Karyn Olivier, How Many Ways Can You Disappear, 2021; Karyn Olivier, Stop Gap, 2020. Photograph by Ron Amstutz