The organizers of the 2024 Whitney Biennial have tapped Taja Cheek a.k.a. L’Rain as the guest curator of the event’s performance program. Chrissie Iles and Meg Onlie have tasked Cheek with developing “a performance and sound series in the Museum’s galleries and theater space that represents the forefront of contemporary experimental performance and sound,” according to a press release.
Cheek has long had a foothold in the world of artistic programming: She’s done curatorial work for New York City institutions such as Creative Time, the High Line, the Kitchen, and MoMA PS1, where she worked on staple series like Warm Up and Sunday Sessions. This past summer, she was the first-ever artist curator of Celebrate Brooklyn!, NYC’s longest-running free concert series. But until recently, she’s made an effort to insulate that path from the rapidly accelerating success of her own musical project, L’Rain. (Cheek released her third L’Rain album, I Killed Your Dog, in October.)
“No one explicitly told me I needed to keep those things separate,” Cheek told Rolling Stone in an interview discussing her new appointment to the 2024 Whitney Biennial’s programming team. “I just didn’t want anyone to think that I was trying to be slimy or anything like that.”
Elsewhere in the interview, she discussed the power of sound to transform a stuffy exhibition into a vibrant community occasion. “Community happens around events, more than exhibitions,” she explained. “There’s something about sound, too, that can be a secret cheat code, or like a portal for museums. Because it’s visceral, because it’s hard to explain, because it’s something that a lot of people have access to in their daily life.
“It literally shakes the walls,” she says. “There’s something subversive about that in a fundamental sense.”