Critics’ Picks

Jacolby Satterwhite, Reifying Desire 5 Appendix, Diamonds Are Forever, 2012, silkscreen on paper and ink-jet print, overall 10 1/4 x 8 1/2”.

Saint Paul

Jacolby Satterwhite

The Bindery Projects
708 Vandalia Avenue 4th Floor
September 20–October 30, 2013

In Jacolby Satterwhite’s dizzying digital multiverse of 3-D animations, nothing is as it seems. Take, for instance, his video The Country Ball, 1989–2012, in which exuberant scenes of celebration give way to tortured netherworlds. The ground beneath an all-American picnic cracks, falls, and reveals characters caught in the frantic push-and-pull of competing demands. One crowned figure whose hands are tied reclines on a throne while another’s stomach swells from being mysteriously force-fed by creatures wielding outsize credit cards. Inside the swollen belly, something sparkles: Children, their outlines traced from home-video footage, hold hands and dance.

“Triforce,” Satterwhite’s first show in the Twin Cities, offers videos, drawings by the artist’s mother, family photographs, and footage from a Mother’s Day cookout some twenty years ago. Arranged in diptychs and triptychs, the drawings and photographs deliberately interact with the irreverent complexity of the moving images: Family footage enters into the flamboyant virtual world of The Country Ball, where Satterwhite’s mother’s drawings and handwritten comments become part of the fantastic environment. Allusions to art history abound: In Reifying Desire #5, 2013, a re-imagined version of Picasso’s Desmoiselles is slowly zapped to life by tiny, silver-suited Satterwhite look-alikes. In Reifying Desire 3: The Immaculate Conception of Doubting Thomas, 2012, the artist mixes motifs and metaphors, relocating the action in and outside the assembled bodies.

Endlessly multiplied and forever moving, the body becomes a distinctive mark that both conveys meaning and serves as the locus of action. The hooded, shimmering avatars in The Country Ball could be anybody. Yet the synchronic fluidity of their movement places them in house ball culture and marks them as belonging somewhere rather than nowhere. Thus Satterwhite’s work carves a compelling space between seemingly unlimited digital possibilities and cultural, even familial, belonging.