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Jacolby Satterwhite Is Going Public

April 25, 2014

How does a busy artist get the job done? Amid a demanding appearance and performance schedule, artist Jacolby Satterwhite works to finish his latest animation, Reifying Desire 6 (2014), in time for the 2014 Whitney Biennial. In the window of the Recess workspace in Soho, Satterwhite dances in a silver catsuit, enticing passers-by to perform in front of a green screen for a new video work.

With upcoming projects and performances at Art Basel Miami and Sundance New Frontier, Satterwhite describes this particularly challenging time in his professional life: “Knowing when to stop, knowing when to say no, it’s just all these rules that aren’t written down for you, and you have to figure it out for to yourself through trial and error.” On top of his pre-existing commitments, Satterwhite is invited by curator Stuart Comer to be part of the prestigious, career-defining Whitney Biennial exhibition. With less than three months to finish his longest animation to date, Satterwhite goes into creative hyperdrive at his Lower Manhattan Cultural Council studio in the Financial District.

Satterwhite maintains a Red Bull-fueled, 24/7 work schedule, pausing only to sleep on this studio floor and completing his new work the day before the opening. With its intricately-wrought digital landscapes and elaborate personal symbology, Satterwhite hopes Biennial viewers recognize the deep-seated formalism underlying the “impulsive perversions and strangeness” of Reifying Desire 6 (2014). After the adrenaline rush and press attention of the Biennial opening, Satterwhite is back at work in his Lower Manhattan Cultural Council studio, laboring on yet another computer-intensive project.

More information and credits


Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Producer & Editor: Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Cinematography: Ian Forster, Amitabh Joshi, Nick Ravich, Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Sound: Nick Ravich & Ava Wiland. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Design & Graphics: Stephanie Andreou, Crux Studio, Open. Artwork: Jacolby Satterwhite. Thanks: Amanda Angel, Stuart Comer, Allison Freedman Weisberg, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Stefan Lundgren, Mallorca Landings, OHWOW, Recess, Sundance Institute, Whitney Museum of American Art. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Art21 New York Close Up is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Jacolby Satterwhite

Jacolby Satterwhite was born in 1986 in Columbia, South Carolina; he lives and works in New York. Bringing together such practices as vogueing, 3D animation, and drawing, Satterwhite’s dreamlike videos explore his own body and queerness while also incorporating his mother’s identity, her schizophrenia, and the thousands of illustrations she made throughout his childhood. Satterwhite started out as a painter but shifted his practice when he discovered new media. He often works in front of a green screen and is drawn to the virtual space because of its potential as a queer arena, but his performances also take place in public outdoor spaces.

Dance & Performance

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