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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.