The Artsy Vanguard 2019: Jacolby Satterwhite
Jacolby Satterwhite by Benjamin Erik Ackermann for PIN-UP, 2017. Courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
Strap on a headset and enter a VR realm of voguing ball dancers, figures in gimp masks, and leather daddies on spaceships. This is the world dreamt up by the artist Jacolby Satterwhite, who has been on a roll since emerging as one of the stars of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. In 2018, he brought an extension of Blessed Avenue (2018)—an installation with a VR component first shown at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York—to Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland, for a booth with Morán Morán.
This year, the artist upgraded to Art Basel’s Unlimited sector, allowing him to show the two-channel video work Birds in Paradise (2017–19) on a larger, grander scale, set in a gigantic theater erected for the exhibition. Last summer, Satterwhite was added to the roster of New York gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash. This September, the artist opened his first solo museum show, “Room for Living,” at Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop and Museum.
Curator Lydia Yee of Whitechapel Gallery, where Satterwhite was included in the exhibition “Is This Tomorrow?” earlier this year, said that the artist ascended to such a place in the art world by the age of 33 by “mixing animation, music, and performance to explore and extend notions of queerness.” Notably, he was a contributing director for singer-songwriter Solange’s 2019 companion film for her record When I Get Home. “Jacolby constructs engrossing worlds that seamlessly bring together the virtual and the physical, the screen and the club, fantasy and reality,” Yee said.