Jacolby Satterwhite

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Jacolby Satterwhite

Work from The Matriarch’s Rhapsody at Monya Rowe Gallery, New York.

“Using these representations as launch pad, Satterwhite constructs his own animated universe, incorporating modern dance, voguing and ballroom culture to make sense of the drawings, and their attempts to fulfill notions of the modern ideal. While Satterwhite’s maximalist tastes appear unhinged, this is not due to a disinterest in academic formalism. Earning an MFA from UPenn, and a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Jacolby worked eleven years as a painter before his interests turned to performance and modern dance, and eventually, CGI animation.

“I used to always work with my mother’s drawings as prompts for inspiration. If she made a drawing about football, then I got some football equipment from some weird place and did something with it. So, I started playing with after effects and I taught myself Rotoscoping and all these tricks — I figured out that in tracing the drawings I could eschew the lines and make them 3D. Once I figured out I could make her drawings 3D, I started working like crazy. Just stayed up all night, didn’t sleep, just read books and did tutorials. It happened organically… Voguing came into play because, I understood my mother’s drawings were design objects, and voguing houses often try to mimic a more Western, patriarchal American lifestyle, like wearing Louis Vuitton and Chanel. My mother’s trying to subscribe to an entrepreneurial lifestyle — I’m kind of functioning as an apprentice of her, carrying her vision into the world. So, voguing felt right, like a kind of tongue and cheek thing.”

As Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the artist viscerally unites his mother’s visions with his own body. Bedecked in a metallic bodysuit, the only human in his compositions, Jacolby’s “live” presence is incendiary. As he vogues, his jabs, angles, and rotations bring agency to the Reifying Desire videos, his movements literally bestowing life, aid, or complete destruction to its players. “When I do that in front of the green screen, I basically composite what I was envisioning in my hand and the space around me. I trace every limb from the computer, and so I can attach objects to them. When I put the characters all over the landscape, I can lineate the storyline from that. It starts out super loose, in my movement. The objects and the technology kind of synthesize the narrative on its own.”

While Satterwhite’s narrative may come off rather shadowy to his audience, the work is far from aimless. His Reifying Desire series is a suite of six videos, the fifth of which is on prominent display at Monya Rowe. When watched in succession, the videos make up six “chapters” of a loosely knit narrative, telling of the spastic creation, evolution, and obliteration of Jacolby’s amorphous world. Each video is an elastic rumination on a theme, their end a variation on the Alpha and Omega, the Christian tell-all symbol of the beginning and end of days. His settings too, are concerned with classic religious imagery.” – Idiom Magazine

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