Cultured Magazine

Summer 2014

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Jacolby Satterwhite's mother might as well be famous. "Not as a trope," says Satter- white, who at 28 has melded two seemingly con- trasting practices of animation video art and live performance, "but my mother is the underlying theme of my work." While Patricia Satterwhite isn't a household name to the rest of the world, she is crucial to con- sider when approaching Jacolby's kinetic and con- ceptual wor k that's "all about creation and the gestation cycle." He began as a painter and is cur- rently on the roster of the Monya Rowe Gallery and Mallorca Landings, and has been shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA PS1 and even in Jay-Z's "Picasso Baby" music video filmed at Pace Gallery (he's that guy sliding around on the floor). "My body is a passive force, like a material for the message," he says. Fo r this year's Whitney Biennial, Satterwhite closed out his famous Reifying Desire series with Part 6, in which a filmed silhouette of the artist continually emerges out of animated uteri as part of his highly detailed futuristic cartoonscapes, reminiscent of both '90s virtual reality graphics and Internet browser Netscape. But it's not simply the obvious symbols that Satterwhite uses in his work that sugg est he has a close relationship with his mother, who happens to be a schizophrenic who's spent years in and out of mental hospitals but for whom drawing was al- ways a form of relief. "It's my personal history and way of operating, and they'll always find their way into the script," he says. "But I started performing because I was transitioning." With dancing lady parts and scribbled de- crees of "pussy p ower," themes of sex are "a meta-device to talk about creation and how ideas transition. I want to take things that are obscene, abnormal and strange and make them not so in my space," he explains, a wry smile emerging when there's mention of footage of the artist being "topped" by controversial gay bareback porn star Antonio Biaggi, fully knowing the contradiction he's setting up in the series' final cha pter. "I'm not try- ing to fit into any category or posture myself to be in a certain kind of institution," he continues. "I'm just exploring what the body already does, with the potential of life and using it as collage material in my all-inclusive universe." Seeking out these points of intersection are just as important to understanding the meta-layers "by staying loyal to the grid," he notes, but also to the format of Satterwhite's practice. Whether gy- rating in front of a Giotto-inspired tabernacle at the Sundance Film Festival or filming his New York City subway dance scenes for his regular "Art21" in- stallments, there's Satterwhite in his signature spi- derweb, silver-and-black, lamé spandex unitard, contorting his own body into positions possible only in cartoons. "When I perform, that persona i s a lot more bold, crazy and confident than I am," he says, "but I've been doing it so much that the two are blend- ing together. And I'm always thinking about what's next." For now, that includes a solo show at OHWOW in Los Angeles, opening October 11. 80 CULTURED Clockwise from above, a still from Reifying Desire 2, 2011; Jacolby Satterwhite performing at the Studio Museum in Harlem; works from "The Matriarch's Rhapsody," a 2013 solo show at the Monya Rowe Gallery in New York Artist Jacolby Satterwhite draws a crowd with his original combination of animation and performance. BY JULIE BAUMGARDNER PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, OHWOW AND MONYA ROWE GALLERY SCENE STEALER

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