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The Incredulity of Jacolby Satterwhite

February 5, 2020

Visit our Awards page for this film’s honors and recognition.

How do we know what’s real? In the midst of career-marking solo exhibitions at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn and the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, artist Jacolby Satterwhite contemplates some of the most fundamental questions around the relationship between an artist and the works they create. Referencing both a long running fascination with Renaissance painter Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas and his own traumatic experience of surviving childhood cancer, Satterwhite muses that “maybe I’ve been skeptical of mortality my whole life and I’ve been making things to make myself witness these objects and say I’m still here.”

Satterwhite’s videos, sculptures, and 3D animations draw from the visual language of video games and digital technology to create vibrant, swirling worlds that are densely populated with dancing figures, fantastical vehicles, and everyday consumer products. Shown installing his exhibition You’re at home at Pioneer Works, Satterwhite discusses how his solo process has grown dramatically in scale and evolved to include the production of a music album. Inspired by his mother’s own amateur songwriting, the album is performed and installed alongside his sculptures and video work in the exhibition. You’re at home, along with his simultaneous show at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, mark the artist’s largest and most ambitious exhibitions to date. While the scope of these shows has allowed Satterwhite to open up his process to a team of collaborators, the resulting work remains deeply personal and meticulously realized. “Art became a form of escapism for me to reroute my personal traumas. But now I think I’m trying to pursue something more present… and trying to get to the core of who I am.”

Featuring music by PAT, a musical collaboration between Jacolby Satterwhite and Nick Weiss, inspired by Patricia Satterwhite. Available to stream on Spotify and purchase on Bandcamp.

Also featuring the painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (1601–1602) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, courtesy Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg, photography by Hans Bach.

More information and credits


Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director & Editor: Lorena Alvarado. Cinematography: Vicente Cueto. Sound: Lorena Alvarado & Chelsi Bullard. Color Correction: Jerome Thelia. Sound Design & Mix: Gisela Fullà-Silvestre. Design & Graphics: Chips. Assistant Editor: Jasmine Cannon. Artwork & Music Courtesy: Jacolby Satterwhite, Patricia Satterwhite, & Nick Weiss. Archival Photography Courtesy: Carlos Avendaño, Rafael Salazar, & The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Thanks: Hans Bach, Danielle Brock, Cut + Measure, Becky Elmquist, Gabriel Florenz, Alex Laviola, Angelika Neumann, Pioneer Works, & Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg. © Art21, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.

New York Close Up is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, 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.

“Making art is just a way to ground me—that I’m real.”

Jacolby Satterwhite

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