There is perhaps no grander New York entryway than the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Great Hall. One of the most iconic locales in the art world, the sprawling, cavernous antechamber has played host to galas, fashion shows, and untold numbers of reverent visitors. This week, the space was transformed once again for the second of the museum's Great Hall commissions: a multi-channel video installation from artist Jacolby Satterwhite. A Metta Prayer, 2023, is a medium-mingling work that combines sound design, performance, animation, and sculpture to reflect the state of media culture today. The work—which was inaugurated with a resplendent celebration featuring performances by Moses Sumney and others earlier this week—takes as its primary subject matter the museum's hallowed permanent collection, injecting its works into a broader dialogue around urban life and popular culture. The mammoth undertaking was one worthy of Satterwhite, whose complex installations engage with Afrofuturist aesthetics, queer theory, and isolation in the digital age. Nevertheless, the post-opening comedown is hard to avoid. Here, Satterwhite tells CULTURED what's in his morning smoothie, how he treats himself after a trying week, and explains the craziest wellness ritual you've never heard of.
How do you succeed as a young creative person today? How do you make it? What does it even mean to make it now? The old models, pathways, and rules—some not even that old—have been scrambled and upended in the past few years, as the traditional gatekeepers and arbiters are replaced by the herky-jerky algorithmic democracy of social media. It’s why Whitney Mallett created the Whitney Review of New Writing: to give space to the daring, the smutty, the inimical, and the frankly weird. Taking things too far requires courage, though. Like when Jacolby Satterwhite was asked to be the second artist ever to do a takeover of the Beaux-Arts Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When I get him on the phone, he’s been busy, having spent the day scanning Solange Knowles, who had to zip herself into a motion-capture suit so she could co-star in the multichannel video installation that will be on view at the museum this fall.She’ll join a digitized posse of his scanned pals, including the artist Raúl de Nieves and the musicians Serpentwithfeet and Moses Sumney, who will scamper around the hall’s walls (“each wall a different film genre”) and spiral up into the three domes. It wasn’t easy.
From the soaring Beaux-Arts architecture to the pristine flower arrangements, the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be a humbling, even intimidating entry point for visitors. The artist Jacolby Satterwhite is having none of that. His new Great Hall Commission, “A Metta Prayer,” turns the museum’s solemnity into a funky, queer-infused love poem to the universe, set to an acid house beat. The installation, made of digital projections and a soundtrack, will be on view through Jan. 7. The piece will feature live performances on weekends in October and November, as well as opening night, Monday, Oct. 2. The video may be the only time Met visitors will hear a benediction like, “May we always keep our wigs on our heads.” Amen. A metta prayer is a peaceful wish for compassion in the Buddhist tradition, and Satterwhite does transcendental meditation everyday. But he said he has given the practice both a personal spin — “from my Black queer irreverent self” — as well as a generational twist.
The New York artist Jacolby Satterwhite is in the midst of transforming the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His vision is a kaleidoscopic installation that blends the queer-coded, video-game-inspired art he’s known for, with soundscapes and treasures plucked from the museum’s esteemed collection. The project, he tells collaborator Kelsey Lu (she’s slated to be “in residence” at the exhibition alongside a slew of other musicians), is a radical spiritual awakening. But when has Satterwhite ever played it safe? "I’m trying to bridge a very unlikely dialogue between spirituality and gaming in the same way. In our society, games have been always propagandistic to war and fighting and violence and resistance. I was thinking, what if I created a space that represented several musicians, like you, who are protagonists in the game? Music is a sonic form of prayer—what if I incorporate that with art objects from all around the world?...I think this show is about repurposing information until it becomes its own abstract, new form for a potential utopia and new futures. I’m just trying to take away all the toxic meaning of all of the histories that I am pulling from for this show. I want to weave it all together: negative, positive, neutral. I think about that a lot: How do we look into the void and find utopia?"
In 2021, 2.8 billion people—almost a third of the world’s population— played video games, making what was once a niche pastime the biggest mass phenomenon of our time. Many people spend hours every day in a parallel world and live a multitude of different lives. Video games are to the twenty-first century what movies were to the twentieth century and novels to the nineteenth century. Artists can be said to present an expanded notion of games. Worldbuilding, an exhibition I curated at the Julia Stoschek Foundation in Düsseldorf, which will be shown at Pompidou Metz in summer 2023, highlights how the creation of games offers a unique opportunity for worldbuilding. Within games rules can be set up; surroundings, systems, and dynamics can be built and altered; and new realms can emerge. As artist Ian Cheng often told me, at the heart of his art is a desire to understand what a world is. Now more than ever, the dream is to be able to possess the agency to create new worlds, not just inherit and live within existing ones.
In her 2020 book, “Lurking: How a Person Became a User,” tech culture critic Joanne McNeil examines the rise of the early internet and, as part of that, the significance it had to queer culture — a place where a person questioning their sexuality might find answers or be able to present a truer version of themselves. “Members of the trans community speak of the internet more viscerally,” she writes, “because as a user, with options for anonymity and pseudonymity, it is possible to express an identity more ‘real’ and factual than what the physical world can see yet.” An exhibition at Honor Fraser Gallery in Culver City looks at the inverse of that proposition, advocating “for a recontextualization of drag as a form of technology itself — applied queer knowledge accumulated, preserved, and reperformed across multiple generations and cultural terrains.” The group show, “Make Me Feel Mighty Real: Drag/Tech and the Queer Avatar,” curated by Jamison Edgar and Scott Ewalt, features work by a multigenerational group of more than 40 artists to examine notions of what the curators describe as “Drag/Tech.”
From the aberrant splotches of 1970s screenprints to incandescent virtual worlds built by contemporary artists, ‘Make Me Feel Mighty Real: Drag/Tech and the Queer Avatar’ at Honor Fraser tracks how the tactics of queer creation – to ghost, glitch, infiltrate, speculate – move across time and technology to serve as scaffolding for much of today’s art practice. By framing drag itself as a kind of technology – an encrypted intelligence archived and activated across generations and cultures – the exhibition hones in on the role of the avatar in queer world-making. Understood both as otherworldly manifestation and, in more recent years, as digital surrogate for online interactions, the avatar becomes a prismatic interlocutor among the dazzling array of more than 40 artists on show. Jacolby Satterwhite’s stunning, two-channel film Avenue B (2019–20) meditates on digital camouflage and love amidst Black violence.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the latest on their agenda: Nairy Baghramian will premiere work for the building’s facade commission, and Jacolby Satterwhite will be featured in the Great Hall beginning this September. With these two contemporary art commissions, in addition to the previously announced roof garden project by Lauren Halsey, as well as their new wing for modern and contemporary art, the Met makes it clear that diverse contemporary art is a top priority for the museum. For Jacolby Satterwhite, this will be the second in the series of commissions for the Met’s Great Hall. The first was in 2019, with works by Kent Monkman. Satterwhite will create a large-scale work, comprised of video, sound, music, and performative interventions. According to the Met’s release, Satterwhite’s installation will incorporate over one hundred objects from the museum’s collection in animation, alongside imagery of New York City and its diverse communities. The goal is to celebrate the vital role of the Museum within the city, and beyond. This is not by any means a departure from his practice.
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art has commissioned Berlin-based sculptor Nairy Baghramian and Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite to create new works for the institution, where they will go on display this fall. Baghramian will produce four polychrome sculptures, each occupying a niche carved into the museum’s Fifth Avenue–facing facade, while Satterwhite will create a video installation that will incorporate images of more than a hundred works from the museum’s collection. These will be exhibited together in the Met’s Great Hall. “We are excited to present major new works by Nairy Baghramian as well as Jacolby Satterwhite, two outstanding, innovative artists whose installations at The Met will challenge and expand our dialogue with the museum as a site of artistic discourse and community experience,” said Met director Max Hollein.
This fall, new, cutting-edge commissions will take over two of the most visible stages contemporary art has to offer: the façade and Great Hall of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The institution has announced that Berlin-based sculptor Nairy Baghramian will make four sculptures for the façade niches facing Fifth Avenue, while Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite will fill the Great Hall with more than one hundred works that shift between sound, video, and performance. The commissions will follow Lauren Halsey’s highly anticipated rooftop garden project that opens April 19. Satterwhite will be only the second contemporary artist officially commissioned for the Great Hall, after the Cree artist Kent Monkman in 2019. Monkman debuted two monumental paintings that recast classic interpretations of American history with Indigenous, gender-fluid characters.
One of the Metropolitan Museum’s most iconic spaces, the vast main lobby known as the Great Hall, will get a radical makeover this autumn thanks to a new multimedia commission from new media and performance artist Jacolby Satterwhite. For his intervention in the soaring space (2 October-26 November), which will also include audio and performance elements, the artist will incorporate 3D scans of around 100 objects from the museum’s collection. It will be the second contemporary art commission in the Great Hall, following 2019’s unveiling of two large-scale narrative paintings by the Cree artist Kent Monkman.
For a contemporary artist, the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the walls of its Great Hall are prime real estate for showing work, given the Met’s importance and the huge number of visitors it gets (more than 3.4 million in 2022). Today the museum is announcing new commissions that will take over both spaces in the fall. The Berlin-based sculptor Nairy Baghramian will make four sculptures for the facade niches along Fifth Avenue as part of her installation “Scratching the Back,” on view from Sept. 7 to May 19. From Oct. 2 to Nov. 23, the Great Hall will be filled with works by the Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite. Max Hollein, the museum’s director, said that the two new commissions — along with the previously announced roof garden project by Lauren Halsey that opens April 18 — reflect the Met’s priorities.
With spring in full swing, these 10 shows focus on new beginnings, old friends, and transformations. Make me feel mighty real at Honor Fraser chronicles the long history of avatars in queer culture from the underground to digital spaces, and Robert Russell at Anat Ebgi reveals the darkness under a surface of kitsch. Make Me Feel Mighty Real is an intergenerational group show featuring over 40 artists who explore the role of avatars as a form of queer liberation. The exhibition charts a course from drag to virtual reality, and the dance floor to the chat room, illustrating how technology has helped fulfill dreams of desire, community, and freedom. Featured artists include Andy Warhol, Charles Atlas, Jacolby Satterwhite, Dynasty Handbag, Ryan Trecartin, and many others.
After seeing Jacolby Satterwhite’s We Are in Hell When We Hurt Each Other (2020), I’ve been stuck on one word: resurrection. The fault is my own. After becoming enamored with the video, currently on view at the Blaffer Art Museum, in Houston, Texas, I started Googling the artist and came across an interview he did for Art21. In the interview, Satterwhite explains playing Final Fantasy as a form of escapism while being hospitalized for cancer treatment as a child. This relationship to technology as a coping mechanism is paired with Satterwhite’s decades-long obsession with the religious iconography of Doubting Thomas in order to come to terms with his own existence. “I’ve been skeptical of my own mortality my whole life,” Satterwhite concludes.
“I’ve been dancin’ on the floor darlin’ and I feel like I need some more” art. Honor Fraser gallery presents the new exhibition “Make Me Feel Mighty Real” — titled after Sylvester’s 1978 disco anthem — that chronicles seven decades of artistic experimentation by queer artists building community and creating “unruly hybridity online and IRL.” The exhibition also investigates how technology influenced the power of drag. TLDR: a very queer exhibition featuring works from 40 queer artists about queer desire. This recommendation, which comes from The Times’ Deborah Vankin, opens Friday in Mid-City with a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Honor Fraser is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and more details on the exhibition can be found on the gallery’s website.
Time, place and movement are among the recurring themes in the many excellent exhibitions by and about LGBTQ artists currently on show at the world’s top museums. Celebrating queer Greeks and Black fembots, resurrecting underappreciated AIDS-era artists, and reframing folklore and ancestral memory from Haiti, India and Turtle Island, these are the can’t-miss shows for early 2023. Currently on show at the Blaffer is this monumental video by multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite, in which digital bodysuits translate the artist’s dance movements into animated, Black fembot forms, bringing together vogueing, 3D animation and drawing to explore the movement of his own queer body. Through March 12.
There is a chill in the air of a disused nightclub in Roskilde, about thirty kilometers outside of Copenhagen. The floors are sticky, as if the dance floor has only just been vacated. For the American artist Jacolby Satterwhite, the club is “a strange cave, where intellectuals come together when they are the most unintellectual, but [also] the most beautiful and kindred.” Satterwhite’s exhibition in Roskilde, hosted by the itinerant Museum of Contemporary Art, centers upon the healing powers of dance and the nightclub, where marginalized groups have the freedom to transgress, inhibitions are lost, artists incubate, and Satterwhite spent so much of his youth. His digital universe is occupied by countless bodies, which gyrate, dance, and vogue to a pulsing soundscape. Satterwhite takes on the role of voyeur, observing the contemporary Zeitgeist, as he fuses the influences of video games, Afrofuturism, queer theory, West African spiritual tradition, and personal experience. The result is a dreamlike vision of the club that is primal and ritualistic, as if dance might have the ability to change our reality.
Which artists are doing the most exciting work? We asked the 35 trailblazing artists, dealers, tastemakers, and entrepreneurs on the 2022 Artnet Innovators List that question as part of this year’s report. We’ve gathered some of their insights here, in one collective interview. Take in their tips and learn more from individual members of the list on Artnet News in the coming weeks. "I don’t like much art because I’m competitive, but if I had to choose I would put my money on Andra Ursuta or Jacolby Satterwhite because, whether you like it or not, they are real artists. Trust me, I can tell the difference," says Jamian Juliano-Villani.
LA3C, an upcoming two-day culture and creativity festival launching later this month, will feature installations by a group of celebrated artists, including Jacolby Satterwhite, For Freedoms, and Patrick Martinez. PMC—the parent company of ARTnews and Art in America, as well as Rolling Stone, Variety, Billboard, and SheKnows, among other publications—launched LA3C Culture & Creativity Festival last July, but had to postpone the event due to the pandemic. The festival is a celebration of culture in Los Angeles. The festival will run from December 10 to 11, and will also feature performances by touted musicians such as Megan Thee Stallion, Maluma, and more. The full lineup of artists includes Jacolby Satterwhite, Amanda Ross-Ho, Patrick Martinez, Edgar Ramirez, Tiffany Alfonseca, Abi Polinsky, Abi Polinsky, Rogan Gregory, and the collective For Freedoms. Information about each individual work is available on LA3C’s website.
Although the playwright Michael R. Jackson, 41, and the visual artist Jacolby Satterwhite, 36, work in different genres, they have some things in common. Both are queer Black New York-based artists who address trauma, secrets and stigmas. And both have spent most of their careers feeling overlooked and misunderstood. “As the Black gay man in the room,” said Satterwhite, “I was seen as some sort of weird exception and dismissed.” Satterwhite, whose work has been shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, hopscotches across mediums — photography, performance, painting, 3-D animation, writing — to create art that raises questions about self-mythology and expression, consumerism, labor, visual utopia and African rituals. His practice defies easy categorization. This year, the South Carolina native has been building multimedia installations around the world, including at the Format music and art festival in the Ozarks, the Front International triennial in Cleveland, the Munch Triennale in Oslo and the Okayama Art Summit in Japan.
Lincoln Center, which does not typically work with visual artists, partnered with the Studio Museum in Harlem and the nonprofit Public Art Fund to commission two pieces by Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite. They will be displayed for 18 months before being replaced by new commissions. “I wanted to figure out how to make a digital quilt inside this landscape inspired by Central Park, to be a love letter to New York and its creative output,” said artist Jacolby Satterwhite. The digital piece, titled “An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time,” features 120 dancers and musicians from the city’s performing arts schools, personally choreographed by the artist. They dance on platforms and outdoor stages set against an imaginary backdrop of sculptures, foliage, and skyscrapers. “What would it be like to allow them to see themselves as future performers of the Philharmonic in Lincoln Center?” Satterwhite posed on Saturday.
Public art commissions are tricky. The creator has to make something that’s accessible but enduring, relevant to the site but also able to stand on its own. Still, Jacolby Satterwhite and Nina Chanel Abney, tapped by Lincoln Center, the Public Art Fund and the Studio Museum in Harlem to celebrate the reopening of David Geffen Hall with a pair of major new installations, make it look easy. Satterwhite, 36, a Brooklyn-based artist, works in performance, 3-D animation and sculpture, often incorporating drawings by his mother, Patricia Satterwhite, into elaborate installations. Abney, 40, best known for painting, also lives in New York and is a public art veteran. They were chosen from a short list of nominated artists after submitting proposals. Between them, the artists incorporate the history of the Lincoln Center and its performing companies, and also of San Juan Hill, the largely Black and Puerto Rican neighborhood displaced by the performing arts complex, into deeply thoughtful pieces that are also joyful and welcoming.
The collectors who rank on ARTnews’s annual Top 200 list are often avid travelers, heading to various locales around the world to see—and buy—great art. While the pandemic’s lockdown in 2020 brought all that to a halt, this summer’s loosening of travel restrictions in many countries saw these collectors go on the move once again. Long a supporter of video art, Julia Stoschek recently added three new works—one by Cauleen Smith, two by Jacolby Satterwhite—in the medium to her collection and quickly put them on view at her Berlin exhibition space in a show titled “at dawn.” Of the latter artist, Stoschek told ARTnews, “The CGI-generated worlds Jacolby Satterwhite’s series Birds in Paradise (2019) as well as Shrines (2021) confront us with feel reminiscent to the worlds Hieronymus Bosch created, only in a faraway future. They are fantastic!”
Before Lincoln Center was a place, it was an idea. San Juan Hill, a bustling neighborhood with large Black and Puerto Rican communities nestled between 59th Street and 65th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was already teeming with artists—great ones, in fact, who were in the process of shaping some of the 20th century’s most distinctly American forms of creative expression. New York City planning commissioner Robert Moses had the entire area demolished to make way for the construction of Lincoln Center, which broke ground in 1959, displacing more than 7,000 families and 800 businesses. The story of how San Juan Hill was effectively razed is one that resonated deeply with both Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite. Last fall, the artists were each invited to submit proposals for public-art installations to inaugurate the reopening of David Geffen Hall, home since 1962 to the New York Philharmonic orchestra.
Over four nights and three days, upwards of 10,000 visitors flowed through Bentonville, Arkansas to attend the inaugural edition of FORMAT. Event producers describe the flashy new affair as a blend of “art, music, and technology.” Home to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville has, over the last decade, gained momentum as a site of interest on the art world’s radar. Each of the participating visual artists engaged the space with their signature approaches. Jacolby Satterwhite chose the occasion to debut PAT, a new performance piece developed in partnership with Performa. He remarked that the event’s production quality was of the highest quality. “I was attracted to the lineup,” Satterwhite admitted to Artnet News, adding that FORMAT also provided a good testing ground for the new “tone” of his work.
“Black men loving Black men is the revolutionary act,” says the filmmaker Marlon Riggs in his 1989 documentary, “Tongues Untied.” For Riggs, who would die of complications from AIDS five years later, the film — made during the darkest days of the epidemic — had “a singular imperative: to shatter America’s brutalizing silence around matters of sexual and racial difference.” More than three decades later, Riggs’s everyday portrayal of queer Black lives feels just as potent, particularly among a generation of young, multidisciplinary creatives who view the director and his crew as ancestors: “It’s been a key inspiration to my journey in film and visual art,” says the 33-year-old artist Shikeith,⁵ who first gained notice as a photographer, although he works across many media. “It was a huge lesson in how I approach community and collaboration.”
Hadres and Satterwhite make for natural collaborators: not only are they two of the most interesting queer artists of their generation, their work shares a certain sensibility. It’s a kind of defiant fragility, or, in Satterwhite’s words, the sense of “flesh being flayed, spread apart and put back together gracefully and monstrously.” Working within the mediums of 3D animation, immersive installation, and virtual reality, Satterwhite’s work explores themes of queerness, the body, consumption, and the idea of utopia. The visual accompaniment to Ugly Season was the culmination of two years of conversations between Hadreas and Satterwhite, and deeply informed by their shared love of certain pop culture references, including David Lynch, Lana Del Rey, Madonna and 90s sitcom Family Matters. “Pop culture, for me, is this space that is simultaneously frivolous and happy, but with a lot of melancholia residing within. Trying to negotiate that is something that both Michael and I have in common,” says Satterwhite. Here, Hadreas and Satterwhite discuss their collaboration, the significance of dance, the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash currently sweeping the US, and more.
The night the newest edition of the FRONT International opened in Cleveland, the show’s curator, Prem Krishnamurthy, could be found at karaoke bar called Tina’s, belting out a beery rendition of Britney Spears’s Toxic. Before him was a rag-tag crowd of local barflies, goth kids, rust-belt cowboys, baseball bros—as well as a cadre of the international art world there for the show. Everyone was singing along. Tina’s wasn’t one of the official sites of the triennial exhibition (which is funny, because seemingly every other venue in Northeast Ohio is), but Krishnamurthy called the event the “crux of the show.” “Karaoke,” he said, “can be such a leveling force. There, in that big room, there are all these different people you don’t know, but everybody’s cheering each other on. When somebody sings, everybody else claps for them and everybody else joins in. To me, that is beautiful.”
Across the harbour from Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where yachts can be spotted gliding out to Lake Erie, two water spouts shoot skyward like whale exhalations. This fountain is part of To Those Who Nourish (2022), a three-year project by London-based duo Cooking Sections that addresses low oxygen levels in the lake caused by agricultural runoff. Organised by Spaces gallery and commissioned by the Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, whose second edition opened 16 July after a one-year pandemic delay, the work is a tribute to nine Ohio farms committed to eliminating chemical fertiliser.
Pygmalion’s Ugly Season (2022) is the 28-minute visual adjunct Satterwhite created for Ugly Season (2022), the latest album by Mike Hadreas, a musician who performs under the stage name ‘Perfume Genius’. The video opens with Satterwhite’s body disintegrating into a network of worlds situated at his joints and chakras. Ever the builder of fantastical dreamscapes, Satterwhite overlays the avatars of pirouetting men in bondage wear with footage of an evangelical Christian congregation overcome by the holy spirit. In another scene, two cyborgs lashed to a travelator made of bike chains convey a bare-chested man, who is cradling a limp Hadreas, through intergalactic space. These vignettes, as wild and attention-seeking as they may seem, are cloaked meditations on desire, human nature, healing and finding utopia.
Earlier this month, the multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite was mingling at the Guggenheim Young Collectors Party. He’s perhaps best known for his maximalist 3D animations, and a preview of his latest video project was to be projected on the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda. He’d been doing final edits up until the event. “It’s the biggest labor of love I’ve had by far,” he said. “The magnitude and dynamism in the piece was a feat that I thought I couldn’t handle.” Pygmalion’s Ugly Season is Satterwhite’s 27-minute symbiotic companion to Ugly Season, the just-released album by Mike Hadreas, who performs and records under the moniker Perfume Genius. The collaboration grew out of mutual fandom; after the two were introduced and embarked on a yearlong phone relationship, the project germinated organically.
Jacolby Satterwhite is a postmodern video artist and unparalleled green screen wizard. His latest, Pygmalion’s Ugly Season, is a companion to Perfume Genius’ surreal avant-garde pop masterwork. Satterwhite’s images emphasize both the madcap goofiness and tenderness of Perfume Genius’ music: elements often overshadowed by the album’s unnerving passages of orchestral brood. The film imagines a queer utopia represented in landscapes of 3D saturated and computer-generated artifice. Eroticized male bodies dance across synthetic architecture and communities form through touch and movement. Satterwhite’s film presents a queer utopia divorced from all notions of purity, aesthetic or otherwise: a liberating rapture of hyper-digital images.
In a partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Public Art Fund, works by Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite will help reintroduce Geffen Hall this fall. When David Geffen Hall reopens on the Lincoln Center campus this fall, two new artworks — by Nina Chanel Abney and by Jacolby Satterwhite — will be splayed across the 65th Street facade and a 50-foot media wall in the renovated lobby. These highly visible pieces, commissioned by the performing arts center in partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Public Art Fund, are positioned to help reintroduce the longtime home of the New York Philharmonic to the city and will inaugurate a rotating program of visual artists invited to put their stamp on Lincoln Center.
Jacolby Satterwhite’s video The Matriarch’s Rhapsody (2012) draws upon sketches created by the artist’s late mother, Patricia Satterwhite, while she was contending with schizophrenia. For more than a decade, Jacolby Satterwhite has created 3D animated video works, sculptures, and immersive installations that explore themes of consumption, fantasy, and utopian desire. In works such as Country Ball 1989-2012 (2012) and Reifying Desire 5 (2013), Satterwhite’s surreal, bacchanalian image-scapes blend influences as diverse as queer theory, voguing, performance, and video-game fantasy genres.
This Wednesday, 6th April, from 6:30-8pm, the Tate Modern will present Jacob Satterwhite’s Birds in Paradise—a six-part, two-channel film installation—which will be followed by a conversation with the artist. Birds in Paradise is a suite of films, titled after a key record that speaks to the visual motifs threaded throughout the work, is scored by a conceptual folk record the artist made from a cappella recordings written and sung by his late mother, the artist Patricia Satterwhite. Generating its narrative from an archive of borrowed anecdotes, personal mythologies, drawings and experimental dance performance footage accumulated by the artist throughout his life the work is a juxtapositions of queer Boschean tableaus decorated with performances by artists, queer activists, dancers, sex workers and actors from his community. Together, the six works depict the resilience of collective bodies in a time of existential crises, grief and post-apocalyptic fantasies. The suite of films have recently been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Haus der Kunst, the Athens Biennial, the Gwangju Biennial, and the Miller ICA at Carnegie Mellon, among others.
For its second edition, the Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art will feature more than 75 artists whose work meditates on the notion of healing and its many meanings. The triennial will run from July 16 through October 2, and will be curated by team led by Prem Krishnamurthy, who has titled the exhibition “Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows,” a quotation from a poem by Langston Hughes, who lived in Cleveland as a child. As with the first edition, staged in 2018, this year’s Front International will be staged across sites in Cleveland and the nearby cities of Akron and Oberlin.
Artists who do the most interesting work with digital media often start elsewhere. Auriea Harvey studied painting at the Parsons School of Design before learning web design and then, with Michaël Samyn, founding the game studio Tale of Tales, which released experimental interactive experiences that expanded notions of what video games could be. Jacolby Satterwhite earned an MFA at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also studied painting, and only after graduation he began teaching himself Maya, which he used to create the engrossing, multidimensional hybrids of animation and video he’s known for today. Both artists still work in multiple mediums. Recently Harvey has focused on physical and virtual sculpture, blending 3D prints with natural materials and building digital models. Satterwhite returned to painting and showed the results in a recent exhibition at MoMA PS1. He is currently building an interactive virtual world for Cleveland’s FRONT International, a triennial that opens this summer. Harvey and Satterwhite met to discuss their shared love of video games, their interest in virtuality as an enhancement of the real, and how they achieved mastery through total dedication to craft.
These gloomy reflections were, however, quickly dispelled by Jacolby Satterwhite’s Birds in Paradise (2017–19), a video installation weaving footage of the artist being shrouded and baptised into a digitally animated world that is Boschian in its scale and imaginative scope. In building a new reality, Satterwhite’s dream-logic weaves together Yoruba rituals, rodeos, classical architectures, extraordinary flying machines and the artist’s own dancing body. The sheer vitality of the work is a reminder that disaffection in art is inherently conservative, more typically a sign that a bourgeois creative class is mourning its own obsolescence than a harbinger of the end of the world.
Satterwhite has explored the boundaries of new media throughout his prolific decade-long career, drawing on the visual language of video games, art history and queer theory to create futuristic landscapes where science fiction and personal narrative intertwine. Both political and deeply intimate, his immersive visual worlds operate with their own internal syntax and logic—a dense symbolic lexicon that has continued to grow in both scope and ambition over the years.
For many, existential uncertainty can be paralysing. Quite the opposite goes for Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Jacolby Satterwhite, though. In fact, it’s a force that’s driven his practice forward over the past decade, through illustration, music production, performance, painting, sculpture, photography, virtual reality, video game design, writing and more. Restless as that may seem, all of these strands braid together in Jacolby Satterwhite: Spirits Roaming on the Earth, the first major monographic survey of his work that just opened at the Miller Institute for Contemporary Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
On August 14, Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Institute for Contemporary Art will debut Jacolby Satterwhite’s “Spirits Roaming on the Earth,” the first solo survey of the artist’s work. It’s one of several projects that Satterwhite — who incorporates animation, performance, drawing, and other mediums — has coming down the pipeline: Along with the Miller ICA show, he’ll return to painting with a group show at MoMA PS1 and is at work on his first public art project for the Cleveland Clinic.
Artist Jacolby Satterwhite’s first large-scale monographic exhibition is opening at Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Institute for Contemporary Art on August 14, marking a major milestone in the artist’s career.
But big shows like this aren’t all glory. Satterwhite now counts dozens of exhibitions to his name all over the world, including at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Gwangju Biennale, and Pioneer Works in Brooklyn (where he lives), and they take a ton of work.
The most difficult thing to do is to make art during civil unrest and the collapse of capitalism in the world,” says artist Jacolby Satterwhite. And yet he has still managed to make art —a lot of it. In 2019 alone, Satterwhite, who specializes in the creation of futuristic, Hieronymous Bosch-like dreamscapes, held two solo exhibitions: one as the artist-in-residence at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (a title previously held by the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Carrie Mae Weems, and Chris Burden), and another at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, a showstopper that featured expansive works reworking recordings and drawings from his late mother, who suffered from schizophrenia.
The multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite’s magnificent first show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in October was an engulfing sci-fi pastoral that included a large digital video projection densely populated with sexy androgynous avatars and other groups of creatures and humans performing Mr. Satterwhite’s angular choreography, smashing disco-ball meteorites or just standing around looking cool.
EACH DECEMBER, Artforum invites a group of distinguished critics, curators, and artists from around the world to consider the year in art. Ten contributors count down their top ten highlights of 2020, while three others select the single exhibition or event that, for them, rose above the rest.
Patricia was the first member of the Satterwhite family you met upon entering the Chelsea location of Mitchell-Innes & Nash. You heard her singing over the speakers and saw her handwriting transcripted into bright neon signs and handwritten notes hung with archival care. You interacted with Patricia’s ideas before you saw the work of her son Jacolby, whose innovative work in sculpture, video, and music transferred Patricia’s visions into the digital age in his recent exhibition We Are in Hell When We Hurt Each Other.
“We Are In Hell When We Hurt Each Other,” Jacolby Satterwhite’s latest solo exhibition at Mitchell-Innes and Nash, marks a beginning, a continuation, and an ending for the 34-year-old Brooklyn-based artist. It is Satterwhite’s first show with the gallery. But this new body of work represents the third and final iteration of a sprawling, five-year project for him: a concept album that fuses visual and sonic elements through performance, video, virtual reality, drawing, and sculpture. Satterwhite’s genre-transcending work has always been ahead of its time. But now, released during this period of social isolation, civic unrest, and technological transformation, it has never felt more appropriately of the moment.
Former Solange collaborator Jacolby Satterwhite shares a special edit of his new film, an homage to Breonna Taylor in which cyber matriarchs fight oppressive orbs. The artist talks to Playboy about surviving 2020 and concluding his queer utopian trilogy.
As a retrospective opens at Tate Modern, we speak to Rashid Johnson, Jacolby Satterwhite and Adham Faramawy about the enduring appeal of the 78-year-old artist's work
At Mitchell-Innes & Nash, new media artist Jacolby Satterwhite offers a tribute to Taylor via an immersive video installation that posits a post-pandemic, post-revolution world in which fembots use ritual and movement as tools of resistance to oppression.
New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem has announced its 2020–21 artists-in-residence, the New York Times reports. The prestigious program, which was established in 1968 and typically fosters rising talent, will take place remotely this year, and will for the first time include a mid-career artist, in an attempt to provide mentorship and cultivate generational exchange.
The four participating artists are photographers Widline Cadet and Texas Isaiah, painter Genesis Jerez, and established artist Jacolby Satterwhite, whose work combines video, performance, and animation.
The Studio Museum in Harlem’s artist-in-residence program is renowned for identifying talented emerging artists and helping them achieve wider recognition. This year, the program, which will take place digitally, is expanding to include a mid-career mentoring resident in addition to the usual three residents.
Joining the program in 2020–21 are Texas Isaiah, Genesis Jerez, and Widline Cadet, as well as Jacolby Satterwhite in the mid-career role. Satterwhite, who enjoys a level of institutional support already, will work in a mentoring capacity to the other residents.
This year, as the coronavirus scrambles the landscape, the museum is leaning into change. Its 2020-21 residencies, announced Thursday, will take place remotely. Two of the selected artists, Widline Cadet and Texas Isaiah, are photographers; another, Genesis Jerez, works in painting and mixed media. And there will be a fourth, midcareer resident, Jacolby Satterwhite, adding a veteran component to a residency known for announcing — and anointing — new talent.
To accompany the release of their latest album, ”Notes on a Conditional Form,” The 1975 and director Ben Ditto commissioned 15 artists to respond to 15 tracks. The animator Jacolby Satterwhite was one of those artists, tapped to create a video for the song “Having No Head.”
Graduating college students at The New School's Parsons School of Design in New York are getting a matriculation gift from Solange Knowles. Through her creative agency, Saint Heron, the award-winning musician and performance artist has partnered with the school to launch Here and Now, a digital festival that will act as a virtual celebration of the Class of 2020, who have been placed in “an unique and unexpected position” due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, says Jason Kass, the school's interim dean of fashion.
In addition to showcasing the students’ end-of-the-year projects, Here and Now will also feature Metonymy, a 3D installation created in collaboration with Saint Heron’s creative team, artist Jacolby Satterwhite, and over 300 graduating students from the School of Fashion at Parsons.
"I've always believed that people become artists because of a compulsion to endure like a stone castle or temple," he explains. "There's this desire to tie down certain moments in history and make them last. That certitude is written on their faces."
The multidisciplinary artist’s practice has long been informed by his most personal experiences, including confronting his own mortality. In an exclusive interview with Art21 filmed in February, ahead of his solo show at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, Satterwhite explained that video games like Final Fantasy were escapes for him while he underwent cancer treatments as a child.
This is good news for an artist like Jacolby Satterwhite—whose work is being shown through the gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash at Art Basel Hong Kong. “I wish I would have known about it earlier,” he laughed, speaking over the phone on a recent afternoon. “I mean, that’s a really weird thing to say, but if I’d known about it, I would have prepared all of my augmented-reality works.” The artist’s medium is almost exclusively digital, and at the moment, he’s focusing on virtual reality, render farms, and the use of a super computer for his new projects.
The day after his thirty-fourth birthday, I called up performer and artist Jacolby Satterwhite. He had just wrapped up a fantastic year of work and collaboration—co-directing with Solange, where he contributed a video for her visual album When I Get Home, and partnering with Nick Weiss of Teengirl Fantasy to produce an LP entitled Love Will Find A Way Home. The album release coincided with the opening of Satterwhite’s multifarious solo exhibition at Pioneer Works, entitled “You’re at Home.”
Jacolby Satterwhite uses digital sculpting and world-building techniques to create computer-animated characters and immersive environments. Across these virtual landscapes, Jacolby copy/pastes live-action footage of himself, creating an intimate visual universe that brings together art history, “expanded cinema,” and the pop-cultural worlds of music videos, social media, and video games.
The very ethics of entering a dynamic work come into question with Jacolby Satterwhite’s Vintage Paradise, a 360-degree video in which viewers are treated to a repository of the artist’s personal images and objects, decorated with numerous sketches of proposed inventions by the artist’s late mother that have been extruded into 3-D.
I’m dramatic,” artist Jacolby Satterwhite tells me, tearing up, one Monday afternoon in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. Two weeks before the opening of his solo show, You’re at home, at Pioneer Works, we’re sitting behind a desktop computer in his temporary studio, a floor above where his digital performances and 3D-printed sculptures will be exhibited.
Imagine that all the works of Jacolby Satterwhite are the suspirations of a single, continuous world. A world in which everything flows and reality has assimilated the smooth transitions, bends, and breaks of dance music. A world where all things touch ends if you change their tempos enough and there are no hierarchies of scale or value.
Patricia Satterwhite, too, was an artist without a public, without a means of access to the infrastructure and institutions that would have made her the star Jacolby says she dreamed of becoming. Before she died in 2016, she had lived with schizophrenia. Throughout her life she incessantly wrote pop lyrics in big letters on unlined white pages and sang them into a cassette recorder; she drew pages and pages and pages worth of inventions that she wanted to fabricate and sell on a home-shopping TV network.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina, artist Jacolby Satterwhite spent his formative years traversing the virtual reality of 90s pop culture. He owned numerous games consoles, among them a Game Gear, Sega Genesis, SNES, 32X, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, and was obsessed with the music videos of Janet Jackson. At 11, he got his first computer, and by 13, Satterwhite was building websites.
‘I feel crazy,’ joked artist Jacolby Satterwhite after opening his first and second solo museum exhibitions, in two different cities, just two weeks apart. To realize his labour-intensive, hyper-baroque vision in ‘Room for Living’, at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, and ‘You’re at Home’ at Pioneer Works in New York, Satterwhite had disappeared for several months from the New York queer scene in which he is a prominent fixture.
On Love Will Find a Way Home Jacolby Satterwhite spotlights his very first collaborator: his late mother Patricia. A former party girl and Mary Kay salesgirl, she became a shut-in as her schizophrenia developed, resulting in extended periods of creation. Jacolby remembers growing up in rural South Carolina as a three-year-old, assisting her in diagramming couture gowns and tampons embedded with artificial intelligence, which she drew while binge watching the Home Shopping Network.
You may know Jacolby Satterwhite through his video animations that create immersive, queer, afro-furturistic worlds, or even from his collaboration with Solange earlier this year. However, his most recent exhibition “You’re at home,” a film installation revolving around the artist’s digitally animated series Birds in Paradise, gets more personal.
In the latest video opus of the artist Jacolby Satterwhite, titled Birds of Paradise, sequence after animated sequence delivers a tapestry of fantastical images that, like puzzle pieces, coalesce into a hypnotically intricate yet fully harmonious whole.
Be prepared for sensory overload when you step inside Jacolby Satterwhite’s new show at Brooklyn's Pioneer Works. Centering around his multi-part, digitally animated series Birds in Paradise, You’re at home is an immersive experience that includes video projections, virtual reality and sculpture. It even includes a retail store that sells records by PAT, his collaborative music project with Nick Weiss (of Teengirl Fantasy) which utilizes recordings by Satterwhite’s mother Patricia.
Jacolby Satterwhite has spent the past decade making highly wrought digitally animated science-fiction worlds and irreverent modern dance pieces that draw on vogueing and martial arts. But he considers his two current shows, in New York and Philadelphia, to be “the final draft, conceptually, of what I was trying to say for years.” While Satterwhite has long been known as an art-world generalist, his fall exhibitions show him at his most direct
33-year-old Jacolby Satterwhite, known for channeling biography, eroticism and queer-disco-party energy in his work, is fairly entrenched in New York’s art scene; his late-aughts arrival paralleled those of other DIY, digital-forward entities like early Tumblr, Fitch-Trecartin or DIS mag. But in light of an outpouring of new material, in which Satterwhite revisits and up-scales long-percolating themes, his years of creation seem to have been in service of a larger, now-unfolding artistic crescendo.
The sci-fi fantasias of Japanese video games, the pulsing bodies of E.D.M. raves, the mystical spaces of Nigerian shrines, and the bygone music chain Tower Records all figure into the wildly ingenious new work of the young American artist Jacolby Satterwhite (pictured). On Oct. 4, Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, opens “You’re at Home,” an exhibition of digital projections, performances, sculptures, and music by the artist, who recently directed an animated music video for the singer Solange.
In artist Jacolby Satterwhite’s digital universe, the possibilities are immense. His decade-long practice has paid tribute to subjects as diverse as the Harlem ball scene, European art history, daytime tele-shopping, queer sexuality and African rituals, merging them into phantasmagorical fuchsia-colored dreamscapes where heaven and hell coexist. The Brooklyn artist’s intricately-crafted universe in 3-D animation, multimedia installation and digital print mixes his deeply personal ties to his mother and circle of friends with a large pool of references that are fascinating, seducing and triggering all at once.
Jacolby Satterwhite, the multimedia artist who recently collaborated with Solange, has long created intricate virtual worlds that burst with a vibrant vision of queerness. For a new exhibition, titled “You’re at home,” at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, on view until November 24, Satterwhite is debuting a new work, Birds in Paradise, that puts onlookers into a kind of uncanny valley between the recent past and near future, fabricating a music shop in the same vein as the now shuttered Tower Records but that pulsates with larger-than-life dancing Afro-futuristic figures.
Jacolby Satterwhite doesn’t abide by contemporary rules of space and time. In “Blessed Avenue” (all works 2019), he leaps from Philly to Louisiana, from live action to animation, from sex party to Shanghai noodle bar in a single jump cut. Since almost a decade ago Satterwhite taught himself Maya — a 3D animation program that allows him to import video of himself and others into any landscape, any room — he hasn’t stopped moving. Or maybe his pace began before that.
Jacolby Satterwhite has described his current exhibition at Fabric Workshop and Museum as “a dream come true.” You should know that Satterwhite has very strange dreams.
For the last decade, he has been conjuring up complex digital visions that seem at first to be silly and ebullient, like big old-fashioned movie musicals, though with aggressively homoerotic imagery. Naked men fly through the sky on winged horses above realms that change in a flash from fairy-tale candylands to urban hellscapes.
Strap on a headset and enter a VR realm of voguing ball dancers, figures in gimp masks, and leather daddies on spaceships. This is the world dreamt up by the artist Jacolby Satterwhite, who has been on a roll since emerging as one of the stars of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. In 2018, he brought an extension of Blessed Avenue (2018)—an installation with a VR component first shown at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York—to Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland, for a booth with Morán Morán.
Jacolby Satterwhite: “You’re at Home” (Pioneer Works; 10/4–11/24) Promises a millennial-nostalgia house of horrors, or at least submerged longings. He’s building an immersive installation of video projections, virtual reality, and “a retail store styled to resemble a defunct Tower Records” to lose yourself in once you’ve made it all the way to Red Hook.
Following a two-year artist residency at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Jacolby Satterwhite will present new digital animation works, a virtual reality experience, and multi-media installations that give physical form to objects that featured in his six-video piece Reifying Desire. Made using 3-D printers and CNC routers, Satterwhite’s sculptures will include larger-than-life figures inspired by The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio (1601–02) and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). The artist also has an upcoming show at New York’s Pioneer Works, “You’re at Home” (October 4–November 24, 2019).
The album has been a long time coming. Satterwhite has been trying to make it since 2008, but it was only upon meeting his collaborator, Nick Weiss, that he was able to realize his vision. Two years in the studio followed, including cameos from musicians and friends. The record will be released on streaming services and “critical pipelines of that genre,” including a forthcoming Pitchfork review of one of its singles.
Multi-disciplinary talent Jacolby Satterwhite and the enchanting Teengirl Fantasy's Nick Weiss have been working together on a project that they're finally ready to share with the world.
The duo, coming together as PAT — a name taken from Satterwhite's mother, Patricia — created an album and book, entitled Love Will Find a Way Home, dropping October 25. It's shaping up to be an intensely interconnected web of visceral vignettes, drawings, audio clips, and abstractions dedicated to, made by, and inspired by Patricia Satterwhite, who suffered from schizophrenia throughout her life before passing away in 2016.
Jacolby Satterwhite announced his latest project today, hot off the heels of working as a contributing director on Solange’s video album When I Get Home. The New York-based artist bridges the full range of his practice—video, animation, performance—with “We Are in Hell When We Hurt Each Other (ft. Patrick Belaga)”, the first single off of his full length double LP, due to drop in October 25.
Art Basel’s Unlimited section for large-scale works provides one such platform for major video installations, and several film works stand out this year. They include Birds in Paradise (2019), a new, two-channel animation and neon installation by breakout digital artist Jacolby Satterwhite, whose work is included in New York’s Museum of Modern Art exhibition New Order (until 15 June), presented by Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
For his two-channel video Birds in Paradise, Satterwhite imagines a future where BDSM soldiers and queer warriors are prepping to take over in a post-apocalyptic world.
What differentiates the work in “New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century” from much of the art elsewhere at the Museum of Modern Art is that the objects here are made with technologies most of us already know and love (or hate). Flat screens, computer interfaces, video games, digital animation, 3D-printing and photography are transformed here into sprawling installations, canny video art or interactive sculptures.
In a new show titled Is This Tomorrow? the London institution has paired together 10 international artists and architects to explore some of the 21st century’s most urgent issues. Two of these collaborators are Andrés Jaque and Jacolby Satterwhite. Jaque is an architect. In 2003 he founded the Office for Political Innovation, a transdisciplinary agency focused on architectural projects which bring “inclusivity into daily life”. Satterwhite’s artistic practice combines video, performance, 3D animations, and archival material to create multi-layered afro-futuristic environments. Most recently, he was a contributing director for Solange’s When I Get Home.
The majority of the visual is centered around footage shot in Texas, but animation takes over the screen at the 28-minute mark, as album standout "Sound of Rain" plays in the background. Arriving at a pivotal moment near the end of the film, the surreal segment features flying horses, dancing figures, a cameo from Trina, and layers upon layers of symbolism. The scene is the work of New York City-based artist Jacolby Satterwhite, who animated, directed, and produced it under the guidance of Solange.
The dramatically shot piece opens and—spoiler alert—closes inside the Rothko Chapel in Houston, and, in between, includes majestic animated portraits by Robert Pruitt (who was born in Houston, like Solange) and delirious computer-generated dance scenes by Jacolby Satterwhite, who’s a contributing director on the project.
Hieronymus Bosch, ball culture, Piero Della Francesca, BDSM, Josef Albers, and the video-game classic Final Fantasy are just a handful of the radically diverse influences that artist Jacolby Satterwhite has seamlessly synthesized into his own ravishing new world. In Blessed Avenue, the first part of his epic animated trilogy (presented at New York gallery Gavin Brown Enterprises in March 2018), the artist draws on his technical virtuosity to reclaim the video-game environments of his childhood, re-inhabiting them with his own community all through the sharp lens of art history. Under his direction, porn actors, performance artists, musicians, and dancers float together, intertwined in gravity-free sci-fi interiors that equally bring to mind shopping malls in Dubai and after-hours clubs in Brooklyn. Their design is directly informed by (and pays tribute to) the drawings produced by the artist’s late mother, Patricia Satterwhite. As it turns out, even PIN–UP played a small role in the development of virtual environments which Jacolby Satterwhite created as a home for his creative family. Just don’t call them nightlife people.
Influenced by gestalt therapy and phenomenology, Nauman began his work in the 1960s—the time that Donald Trump seems to identify as the start of America's decline and the height of the civil rights era. Black people in America were mobilizing to demonstrate their political agency. Much of the conversation centered on their right to occupy mundane public spaces—restrooms, schools, restaurants—without violent repercussions. This appeal for universal access penetrated the zeitgeist, and it continues today; equal access is still not secure, especially for transgender and queer people. Nauman's work can be understood within this interrogation of the banality of his white male body: its scale, identity, and relationship to his environs.
The New York-based gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash has added Jacolby Satterwhite to its roster. He will debut his latest video piece, Avenue B,as part of the summer series “35 Days of Film,” with the gallery’s space in Chelsea devoted to the work July 20-24. Satterwhite will also have his first solo exhibition with the gallery this fall.
Flaka Haliti and Jacolby Satterwhite reimagine the social systems of the world that structure our lives. Satterwhite takes his childhood’s domestic setting to build futuristic virtual landscapes. In his hands, the familiar environment becomes a stage on which to perform scenes of queer sadomasochistic role-play, which he sees as a metaphor for late capitalist domination and subjugation.
Jacolby Satterwhite’s exhibition at Gavin Brown’s enterprise transformed the gallery into a kind of nightclub—that ultimate escapist’s paradise. Visitors entered a hallway where they could pick up glow stick necklaces from glass jars on the ground, after which they emerged in the darkened exhibition space. Playing on both sides of a screen suspended in the middle of the room was a trippy animated film, Blessed Avenue (2018). A purple neon sign reading pat’s, meanwhile, beckoned visitors toward a back area and gave the room a soft glow.
Leather queens, club kids, and bare-breasted femmes writhe and vogue in crystalline enclosures overlooking churning purple galaxies. Bound to one another and to sinister machines by a network of multicolored intestinal tubing, pliable virtual bodies pleasure and punish each other in acrobatic scenarios, their mechanical gyrations powered by a sovereign libidinal clockwork. The factory and the dance floor, Fordism and fetishism, play and werk, collapse into undifferentiated opalescence. Across a torpid twenty minutes, titillation yields to monotony, anhedonia, alienation. In a rapacious feedback loop, alienation transubstantiates to kink.
Pick up a pink glow-stick bracelet on your way into “Blessed Avenue,” Satterwhite’s impressive début with the gallery. A large screen bisects the black-walled space, playing a hallucinatory video—a Boschian sci-fi tableau—which attests to the artist’s command of digital animation and 3-D-modelling software. In the endless simulated shot, dancers and S & M performers populate a gay mega-club, a maze of fragmented machinery apparently adrift in space. The dystopian scene has a surprisingly poignant twist: the action is set to an electronic soundtrack created from cassette tapes of the artist’s mother, singing a capella. In the accompanying installation, a conceptual boutique, the artist hawks affordable items from pill organizers to tambourines, all printed with dashed-off drawings and charming, handwritten notes.
There is a lot to see, hear and buy in Jacolby Satterwhite’s “Blessed Avenue” at Gavin Brown on the Lower East Side. A pop-up store in the gallery is selling cheap bespoke items like pencils, pill cases and bottled water. An eerie, disembodied voice, singing in an R&B-inflected falsetto, filters throughout the space and you can purchase Mr. Satterwhite’s new self-described concept album, also titled “Blessed Avenue.”
You enter the gallery as though walking into a club. A darkened hallway opens up onto a room pulsing with music, dimly lit by a purple neon sign near the far back wall. The cool glow of a massive video projection reveals a scene from some futuristic S&M rave: young people in black leather dance, vogue, crawl, pose, whip one another and lead each other around on leashes. Jacolby Satterwhite appears among them, on hands and knees in a leather jockstrap and harness, while artist Juliana Huxtable playfully flogs him with a long, braided whip. These are his friends, his social world, whom the artist has captured in green screen video and transposed into this animated technofuture.
On the third floor of an unassuming Chinatown building, a dark hallway leads to Blessed Avenue, Jacolby Satterwhite’s psychedelic quest into queer desire and memory, a twenty-minute digital animation created with Maya computer software. In order to do justice to the film’s bizarre rituals performed by Juliana Huxtable, Lourdes Leon Ciccone, and DeSe Escobar alongside Satterwhite, Gavin Brown’s enterprise orchestrated the gallery similar to an underground club, from glow-sticks occasionally available at the entrance to the pitch-dark atmosphere elevating the film’s visual and audial impact. The exhibition's titular piece runs on a large, two-sided screen, which emanates enough light to let visitors inspect a pop-up retail installation that displays merchandise complimenting the film.
Blessed Avenue is a cornucopia of monsters, misfits and dancers including Madonna’s daughter Lourdes in imaginary dreamscapes in clubland and beyond. Satterwhite has said he is more concerned for his work to be shown in museums than private collections. In contemporary art in New York, the industry thrives much more upon knowing the names and M.Os of the most cutting edge creatives, rather than actually owning any of their work.
“I’m so nervous,” admitted Jacolby Satterwhite. artnet News was visiting the artist at his Brooklyn apartment ahead of the opening of his upcoming show at New York’s Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, and he was feeling some jitters. “My first solo show, no one knew who I was,” he added, noting that the pressure is way more “intense” this time around. Satterwhite’s first solo effort in the city was in 2013. “So much has happened for me since then, creatively, cerebrally, and critically. I hope of all of that comes through in what I’m showing.”
Squeezed into a prop-riddled balcony in Brooklyn's Spectrum dance club (or Dreamouse) on Wycoff Avenue, Jacolby Satterwhite is defying the laws of nature. Donned in vintage clothes that loosely hang on his nimble limbs, the artist is rapidly contorting his body into different pretzel-like poses, eventually holding one as he sinks into a pile of faux-fur pillows and garbage bags. While some might call it eccentric, the whole tableau is in fact quite minimalistic for Satterwhite, who previously, as seen in the pages of OUT and in exhibitions around the globe, has performed in spandex bodysuits covered with androgynous protrusions and digital screens. “I've moved away from that for a couple of years,” Satterwhite says. “I think right now I have a different message. My work is still gonna be 3D-animated and otherworldly and weird, but lately I feel much more satisfied with the conversation I'm having with my audience—it's about tactility and connection. I think it's more about realism for me.”
Jacolby Satterwhite’s videos, made with the digital animation software Maya, are filled with seemingly infinite painterly detail. Their frames glide in axial movements like a joystick or drone. In his six-part film suite ‘Reifying Desire’ (2011–14), Satterwhite’s avatars dance and copulate on platforms floating in vast, star-speckled expanses of mottled purple and brown – a cosmic cyberscape governed by digital technologies that enhance and proscribe sexual pleasure.
The imagery in Jacolby Satterwhite’s work seems intuitive and fluid, yet the technical mediums the young artist uses are anything but. Often working with 3-D modeling and film, the artist creates immersive experiences that mesmerize. This year, his work appeared at the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney as well as at the DIS-curated Berlin Biennale. Satterwhite is now working on pieces for New Museum and SFMOMA.
Years ago, Jacolby Satterwhite, who was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, abandoned oil and canvas in favor of 3-D software and digital cameras, resulting in sexually coded, absurdist narratives featuring avatars, violence, and bodily fluids—not to mention himself, sometimes nude and often vogueing or hip-hop dancing. His latest work, En Plein Air, includes videos and photographic prints that attempt to capture the authenticity of real-life interactions.
By his own calculus, at least, the artist and filmmaker Jacolby Satterwhite could be mistaken for a pop star. “I’m having such a Janet day,” he tells me one night over dinner, pulling up a photo of the singer on his phone. In it, Jackson grimaces nervously at the camera. He has just landed in Miami for the 13th annual Art Basel, the art world’s boozy grand fête and celebrity-heavy blowout. His new autobiographical film, En Plein Air: Diamond Princess, which continues the artist’s inquiry into the nature of the body, will premiere in late April at the Pérez Art Museum, and I’m curious what else he has planned for 2015. Satterwhite, who’s wearing a T-shirt that reads just hype, pauses and sets down his beer.
At just 28, Jacolby Satterwhite has already racked up a resume to rival artists twice, even three times his age. The Southern born, New York-based new media master has been featured in the Whitney Biennial, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Which is probably why Forbes came knocking to feature him in its annual 30 Under 30 spotlight this past year.
TRINA, THE RAPPER FROM MIAMI, is also known as the Diamond Princess, and her crystalline image is everywhere, from the fan site Oh-Trina.com to bottles of her namesake perfume. She is everywhere, in particular, in Jacolby Satterwhite’s new series of tableaux, “En Plein Air.” Endless iterations of her pneumatic figure populate galactic landscapes in glittery jewel tones, surrounded by renderings of other contorted, slickly muscled bodies—including that of Satterwhite himself.
Jacolby Satterwhite’s solo exhibition How lovly is me being as I am is born out of a maternal virtual hive mind. Satterwhite fills OHWOW, a spacious white cube in West Hollywood, with 10 large-scale C-prints from the series Satellites and En Plein Air, four nylon-and-enamel sculptures called “Metonym,” and the six-channel video “Reifying Desire.” The visual centerpiece of this show, for which it is named, is a purple-lit neon sign, which sets the tone for this exhibition’s breezy tour through a hyperactive virtualized video game imagination.
Eccentricity was inevitable for Jacolby Satterwhite, who grew up in South Carolina with a mother who dreamed of “becoming a famous inventor on the Home Shopping Network,” and two “flamboyant dancer-slash-fashion-designer brothers.” The New York-based artist stood out at this spring’s Whitney Biennial with “Reifying Desire 6,”a Boschian mix of performance, digital art and painting. His first solo show in L.A. opens this month at OHWOW gallery and draws inspiration from many sources, or “archives,” as he calls them, such as drawings made by his mother, which he uses to mine his own past.
The digital age is currently facing certain adaptations that bring into question the modern’s faithfulness to understanding the past; texting incoherent typos being confused with Freudian slips was not considered by the original teacher and therefore could nullify the slip of the tongue theory. Psychological models in human development did not anticipate dualism in identity formation: the physical being and the digital projection of it via an online profile. Jacolby Satterwhite welcomes all to explore this colloquial shift in the virtual universe he has built.
For many young artists who grew up with computers, video is a dream machine, a tool for envisioning what streaming consciousness looks like. Jacolby Satterwhite’s eight-minute video, “Reifying Desire 5,” the main attraction of his first solo show in New York, is a hallucinogenic tossed salad of different kinds of animation. In a silver jumpsuit, Mr. Satterwhite dances athletically through a vertiginous flux of abstract and representational imagery. The other principle figures are five heroically proportioned females and one male, all rendered like video-game avatars.