See Jacolby Satterwhite’s Queer-Art Universe
This fall brings a big bang of Satterwhite work, including an album, book, and multiple solo shows.
33-year-old Jacolby Satterwhite, known for channeling biography, eroticism and queer-disco-party energy in his work, is fairly entrenched in New York’s art scene; his late-aughts arrival paralleled those of other DIY, digital-forward entities like early Tumblr, Fitch-Trecartin or DIS mag. But in light of an outpouring of new material, in which Satterwhite revisits and up-scales long-percolating themes, his years of creation seem to have been in service of a larger, now-unfolding artistic crescendo.
This outpouring is reflected across an album and a book, both called Love Will Find A Way Home, as well as two solo shows: one at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works, the other Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop and Museum. All timed to fall, these wide-ranging events amount to something between a re-introduction and a grand finale, incorporating new media while building upon Satterwhite’s collage-like style.
As before, Satterwhite’s late, schizophrenic mother Patricia is a catalyst of the new work writ large. “She is the most ‘Lifetime movie’ story you are going to get out of [this],” he says, “[She is] the most significant, interesting source of inspiration [for me].”
But she is not a source to be easily distilled, regardless of medium; Exhibit A is Love Will Find A Way Home the album. The electronic LP samples 150-plus vocal recordings of Patricia, mixed by Satterwhite and his co-musical-frontman Nick Weiss, collectively known as PAT. “The triangulation of the project centers around the concept record,” Satterwhite explains. Intended not as “an art record,” but a “legitimate exploration in the history of electronic music media,” the LP stands alone as a thumping, danceable epic, also featuring accompaniment by Kindness and cellist Patrick Belaga.
But it also figures into the project at large, scoring Satterwhite’s now-open show, “You’re At Home,” at the monumental Red Hook space Pioneer Works. The exhibition’s visual centerpiece is a monumental, VR-like tapestry of queer ritual performed by Satterwhite and others. “There are 50 to 100 performances that I solicited from [various people]—from dancers to random passersby,” says Satterwhite. “It’s the result of a massive network of inspiration, metastasizing and building a harmonious form.”
As Satterwhite’s body of work continues to expand—now including the album, as well as a namesake book, both featuring a Wolfgang Tillmans-shot cover—he credits this collaborative, queer network with conjuring it into existence: “The [project] is queer, in regards to its outsourcing of material, in this ‘folk’ kind of way, [from those] suffering, or dealing with any kind of adversity,” says Satterwhite—suggesting that whatever “home” exists in “You’re At Home,” or Love Will Find A Way Home, it does so in the margins. But rather than restrict, these margins seem to enable Satterwhite’s boundless creation.
Indeed, his hypersonically queer family portrait has perhaps only just begun to take shape. Says Satterwhite: “I don’t like to bracket things… But I do feel like these [projects] really culminate, or realize, what my vision [has been] for the past 10 years. Now I can move on with much more liberation and agency, to do bigger things, and just have complete autonomy; to only do what I want to do.”