b. 1986, Columbia, SC
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
Jacolby Satterwhite is celebrated for a conceptual practice addressing crucial themes of labor, consumption, sex and fantasy through immersive installation, virtual reality and digital media. He uses a range of software to produce intricately detailed animations and live action film of real and imagined worlds populated by the avatars of artists and friends. These animations serve as the stage on which the artist synthesizes the multiple disciplines that encompass his practice, namely illustration, performance, painting, sculpture, photography and writing. Satterwhite draws from an extensive set of references, guided by queer theory, modernism and video game history to challenge conventions of Western art through a personal and political lens. An equally significant influence is that of his late mother, Patricia Satterwhite, whose diagrams for somewhat absurd household products and ethereal vocals serve as the source material within a decidedly complex structure of memory and mythology.
Jacolby Satterwhite was born in 1986 in Columbia, South Carolina. He received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Arts, Baltimore and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Satterwhite’s work has been presented in numerous exhibitions both in the United States and in Europe, including most recently at Whitechapel Gallery, London (2019); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019); the Minneapolis Insititute of Art (2019); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2018); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2018); New Museum, New York (2017); Public Art Fund, New York (2017); San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco (2017); and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017). He was awarded the United States Artist Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellowship in 2016. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. In 2019, Satterwhite collaborated with Solange Knowles on her visual album, “When I Get Home." Upcoming solo shows will be presented in the fall of 2019 at Fabric Workshop & Museum, Philadelphia and Pioneer Works, New York.
All images © Jacolby Satterwhite.
Jacolby Satterwhite is included in the group exhibition Speculative Bodies at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Jacolby Satterwhite is included in the group exhibition New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Friday, December 7, 4-5 pm
Miami Beach Convention Center | Auditorium, West Lobby
Open to the public and free of charge
Please join Jacolby Satterwhite in conversation with Masha Faurschou and François Quintin, moderated by Elvia Wilk. Virtual reality (VR) art is on the rise, offering audiences a new way to immerse themselves in artistic practices. For this talk, artists and experts come together to discuss the latest conceptual and technological developments in the field, and examine what makes a great VR artwork, as well as which artists are using the medium most skillfully.
Jacolby Satterwhite is included in BETWEEN., the fourth installment of We.Construct.Marvels.Between.Monuments., a series of five exhibitions highlighting artists working within the queer and trans diaspora.
Jacolby Satterwhite's En Plein Air: Music of Objective Romance, Track #1 Healing in Mu House (2016) is included the group exhibition "I Was Raised on the Internet" at MCA Chicago.
Jacolby Satterwhite presents a 3D animated video projection and panoramic picture scroll of the 14th century danshoku (homsexuality) at his solo exhibition at Asakusa in Tokyo, Japan.
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.
Jacolby Satterwhite’s art is nearly the opposite of the fascist, illusionist US government regime we currently live under, and is far more radical — creating something that could otherwise never be.
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.