Critics’ Picks

Jacolby Satterwhite, Reifying Desire 3: The Immaculate Conception of Doubting Thomas, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 17 minutes 4 seconds. From the series “Reifying Desire,” 2011–14.

Jacolby Satterwhite, Reifying Desire 3: The Immaculate Conception of Doubting Thomas, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 17 minutes 4 seconds. From the series “Reifying Desire,” 2011–14.

London

Jacolby Satterwhite

Banner Repeater
Hackney Downs Network Rail, Dalston Lane, Platform 1
February 11–April 23, 2017

Influenced in equal parts by Picasso, Disney, Bruce Nauman, and Janet Jackson, Jacolby Satterwhite’s videos take place in a domain where human self-orientation loses its social and biological distinctions. The work exhibited here, third in the six-part series “Reifying Desire,” 2011–14, is titled The Immaculate Conception of Doubting Thomas, 2012, and there isn’t a party left in it with a position of stable certainty.

Satterwhite builds his disorienting videographic environments around drawings made by his mentally ill mother—often supplemented by over- or underlying captions and comments—that are proposals for newfangled merchandise for the Home Shopping Network. The products of her manual creativity, digitized by the artist, metastasize into a broader space that amalgamates all manner of desire—of personal connectedness between parent and child, for instance, or a commodity’s aspirations. “Reifying Desire” opens onto a scene where an effeminate Christ-like figure and the penetration of the figure’s wounds are the background for Satterwhite’s camera-ready vogueing. It reframes phenomenology into an impossible terrain—an exquisite corpse made up of mother, son, tradition, and transgression.

Satterwhite calls his environments “distorted simulacra of reality,” and their ultimate destination is an apolitical sphere where one’s constitution doesn’t need to be cemented. All the same, the persistent physicality of his figures reminds one that such a space would still need to be shaped by a more common, earthly situation.