Conversation Starter

What experiences are transcendent?

Since time immemorial, humans have sought out transcendent experiences through numerous methods.

Kimsooja. "To Breathe—A Mirror Woman" (2006), installation at The Crystal Palace, Madrid. Production still from the "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 5 episode, "Systems." © Art21, Inc. 2009.

Kimsooja’s videos and installations blur the boundaries between aesthetics and transcendent experience through their use of repetitive actions, meditative practices, and serial forms. In her first recorded performance, she used her body as a symbolic needle and stood still amidst a bustling crowd in Tokyo, with her back to the camera. She states, “my desire is abandoned and my will is abandoned. With that durational performance, I experience a certain transcendence of myself, and hopefully, the audience does too.”

How does an artist inspire viewers to have a divine experience?
Production still from the Art21 New York Close Up film, "The Incredulity of Jacolby Satterwhite." © Art21, Inc. 2020.

Bringing together such practices as vogueing, 3D animation, and drawing, Jacolby Satterwhite’s videos portray environments that are quite literally out of this world. Creating virtual alternate realities that liberate his self-proclaimed shyness, Satterwhite practice deals with themes of regeneration, healing, and resurrection. Describing references to Caravaggio’s “doubting Thomas” imagery found in his own work, Satterwhite says, “The ultimate metaphor about the piece is using ritual as a way to ground you,” adding, “making art is just a way to ground me—that I’m real.”