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NYC Series: Jacolby Satterwhite at Gavin Brown Enterprise Gallery

Brittany Windsor

Entering the fourth floor of a seemingly average New York building, a dark hallway
meets the viewer and leads them into the Gavin Brown Enterprise Gallery. Arriving at the gallery transforms the mind into that of Jacolby Satterwhite. Cool, light and music guides one to a projected video on a blank wall that reveals scenes of futuristic S&M figures dancing in a looped 30-minute music video. Young, queer people in black leather fetish gear vogue, crawl, pose, fornicate, whip one another and are lead along on leashes. Satterwhite is included in these individuals, along with Juliana Huxtable and Lourdes Leon. They dance to techno music atop impossible metal architecture rendered using the software Maya in an erotic nightmarish wonderland inspired by Satterwhite’s mother.

The exhibition “Blessed Avenue” is a tribute to the artist’s mother, Patricia Satterwhite, who died in 2016, leaving behind her own treasures of art and music that she created in response to self-medicating her mental illness. The music was recorded a cappella on cassette tapes in the 90's by Patricia. Satterwhite subsequently remixed the tapes into an electronic album in collaboration with Nick Weiss of Teengirl Fantasy to fulfill his mother’s lifelong efforts of creation. Her lyrics include sentiments like, “I hurt me. You hurt me. I hurt me. I hurt myself. We are in hell, when we hurt each other’s souls.”

Behind the giant projected wall is a gift shop of items for sale, illuminated by a neon sign reading “Pat’s.” To the right is a room illuminated by a purple light with drawings by Patricia. These drawings are prototypes of real and imagined items, including perfume bottles and dog carriers with bits of explanatory text. These drawings are reproduced on the everyday items for sale in the gift shop, which include lighters, coffee mugs, dishes, tambourines and the vinyl collaboration in memory of Patricia.

This weaving of ideas can also be seen in the video, as Patricia’s drawings appear on signs and inspire the armature of the architecture. This piece also involves
collaborations between individuals specialized in art, music, poetry, pornography, and fashion. But Satterwhite fully immerses and projects his mother into his work, intertwining the familial and amorous, two ideas that are usually kept separate. He reveals the complexity of a life shared in multiple arenas and queers them in order to create closure and meaning.