Critics’ Picks

Jordan Wolfson, (Female figure), 2014, mixed media, 90 1/2 x 72 x 29".

Jordan Wolfson, (Female figure), 2014, mixed media, 90 1/2 x 72 x 29".

New York

Jordan Wolfson

David Zwirner | 525 & 533 West 19th Street
525 & 533 West 19th Street
March 6–April 19, 2014

Jordan Wolfson is a filmmaker in the traditional sense, drawing more from the history of cinema than from art. The specific strategy of his celluloid, digital, and animated beauties involves layering, where one film exists within or on top of another. Success is derived from a calculated dissonance. See his 2006 short of a tuxedoed figure signing Charlie Chaplin’s parody of Hitler: “I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor . . . that’s not my business.” Or the footage of milk inserted into marching Diet Coke bottles in Con Leche, 2009, or his recent effort Raspberry Poser, 2012, where CGI renditions of the HIV virus bounce throughout generic interiors of department stores and New York’s SoHo, the treatment set to the sound track of Beyoncé. Cut. Enter the artist dressed as a crust punk with vitiligo sporting Iggy Pop paraphernalia. Can this work seriously engage issues of a techno-scientific postindustrial society via a technique entangled within the trappings of the very technology it purportedly critiques?

The focal point of this exhibition is (Female figure), 2014, an animatronic real doll, dressed as a stripper and skewered by her pole, performing in front of a mirror. What a selfie she makes, a screen onto which your desire can be projected, or another image to add to your Instagram. This is a pivotal point within the artist’s practice; his work has moved from the silver screen into three dimensions. The method remains the same, the figure dances to an irregular sound track: sometimes Paul Simon and sometimes Lady Gaga, among others. Cut. Pause. Wolfson’s voice whispers, “My mother’s dead, my father’s dead, I’m gay,” as if to offer access to his “inner” self. While the litany could be interpreted as a transgressive pimping of post–hetero-normativity, it returns us to a modernist myth: authenticity verified by the artist’s touch, cold material infused with aura. The loop performed by Wolfson’s simulation—much like the installations of Philippe Parreno, which perform the structure of cinema—turns on and off, seemingly responsive to viewer engagement, only to have been preprogrammed. The repetitive choreography anticipates a second question, and it’s hard not to entangle Wolfson himself in this one: Is the performance ever over?