Jordan Wolfson creates “seductive yet repulsive” spectacle

See the New Yorker’s first Amsterdam exhibition at the Stedelijk.

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Jordan Wolfson Colored sculpture 2016, Mixed media. Overall dimensions vary with each installation Collection LUMA Foundation. Courtesy the artist, Sadie Coles HQ, London and David Zwirner, New York, Photo: Dan Bradica

Welcoming autumn with open arms, the Stedelijk Museum delivers an exhibition (and a good excuse to hide from the cold) by revolutionary young artist Jordan Wolfson. Creating uninhibited work that explores our compulsion for technology and the digitalization of society is this American artist’s MO. Wolfson conceived two episodes to his exhibit, both of which show a multidisciplinary set of skills, birthing robotic but human-like figures that interact with the viewer.

Having opened during Amsterdam Art Weekend, Part One: MANIC/LOVE­­—an exploration of American pop culture—is now in full motion. Upon entering the vast gallery space that Wolfson’s sculpture inhibits, expect to feel overwhelmed, not just by the tortured doll hanging in front of you, but also by the immense sounds of heavy-duty chains echoing through the gallery, and the occasional blast of Michael Bolton’s When a Man Loves a Woman.

Jordan Wolfson Colored sculpture 2016. Mixed media Overall dimensions vary with each installation. Collection LUMA Foundation Courtesy the artist, Sadie Coles HQ, London and David Zwirner, New York, Photo: Dan Bradica

Jordan Wolfson Colored sculpture
2016. Mixed media
Overall dimensions vary with each installation. Collection LUMA Foundation
Courtesy the artist, Sadie Coles HQ, London and David Zwirner, New York, Photo: Dan Bradica

Wolfson’s work “strips back the glossy veneer of the American dream to expose a darker side lurking beneath.” Employing motion technology to bring his animatronic artwork to life, Wolfson’s Colored sculpture (2016) embodies a redhead robot with freckles (picture Howdy Doody and Huckleberry Finn) that dangles from heavy chains attached to a steel gantry, violently thrown around the space; unable to break away from the software that controls him. Colored sculpture is presented alongside a selection of video works and digital paintings: an eclectic mash-up of Disney-like cartoon characters, Beyoncé samples and texts that you would find on bumper stickers slapped on the back of an American car.

Jordan Wolfson Untitled, 2015 Ink-jet print on glossy photo paper on aluminium panel 152.4 x 127.0 x 8.2 cm Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

Jordan Wolfson Untitled, 2015 Ink-jet print on glossy photo paper on aluminium panel 152.4 x 127.0 x 8.2 cm Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

MANIC/LOVE will be succeeded in February 2017 by Part 2: TRUTH/LOVE, an exhibit with at its centerpiece Wolfson’s first and famous robotic creation, Female Figure (2014). Not only does this creation have the ability to lock eyes with viewers through motion sensor technology, but also boasts a terrifying aesthetic; the body and hair are that of a pop star, but a bird-like mask conceals her face. Described as a “computer-controlled, hyper-sexualized blonde robotic woman”, the intriguing Female Figure gyrates in front of the mirror. What unfolds is an “alluring yet repugnant” obsessive cycle of watching and being watched.

www.stedelijk.nl

www.davidzwirner.com

 

Words by Lottie Hodson