Jordan Wolfson Animation, Masks

With, Animation, Masks, currently on view at Alex Zachary Peter Currie, Jordan Wolfson presents a single, intensely engaging video on a large flat screen monitor, resting on a sea of electric blue wall to wall carpet covering the entire first floor of this unconventional uptown gallery. The sole focus of Wolfson’s 12 minute 29 sec piece is a grotesque, animated caricature of a middle-aged orthodox Jew, who recites Richard Brautigan’s Love Poem and, more affectingly, the intimate words of two young lovers, while flipping through a recent edition of Vogue Magazine. The confrontational scale of the character’s head on the massive screen and his uncomfortably seductive direct address calls to mind Vito Acconci’s Theme Song (1973) retooled for the emoticon era. Such sensitive dialogue would be wholly out of place coming from the mouth of any Pixar animation, particularly this one, but that seems to be part of the point and part of what makes the piece so successful. The inserted backgrounds and icons at times projected across the character’s face seem picked at random from an unknown Google image search. Even the character’s outlandish appearance, disturbingly lifelike hair and alternately aggressive and suicidal hand gestures, come off as a casual choices, just one option from a host of others. But these idiosyncratic decisions, so seamlessly executed, congeal into an unquestionable whole.

The unfamiliar combination of familiar elements somehow narrowly avoids being outright offensive, while resisting any clear form of social commentary, allowing the piece to remain open to various interpretations on repeated viewings. Wolfson’s approach to appropriation seems to share something in common with that of Jack Goldstein’s Bone China, Takeshi Murata’s I, Popeye, shown at the New Museum last year, and Frances Stark’s My Best Thing, currently on view at PS1.

Where some artists copy found images or objects in another medium as a way of absorbing and redirecting their power, these artists have co-opted a contemporary commercial process to create work that is not merely recycling popular icons, but actively engaging in the process of cultural production using the same tools as the source material that inspired the works. What sets Wolfson’s Animation, Masks apart, however, is the emotional depth he achieves by creating a profound sense of melancholy, which has become a hallmark of his work. There is something infinitely sad about Wolfson’s creature, whose appearance, words and actions are all equally out of sync – the avatar as an abused puppet – challenging the assumption that one cannot feel empathy for a being trapped in the uncanny valley.

Animation, Masks is on view at Alex Zachary Peter Currie through Feb. 18th

Alex Zachary Peter Currie
16 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10075

Recent Posts


What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene | Agustina Zegers

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene is a text made up of living exercises to accompany Haraway’s theorization of the Chthulucene and her upcoming book Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Haraway posits that not only should we name the Anthropocene carefully (including the terms Capitalocene and Plantationocene within its narrative) but that we should also be using this crucial ecological timeframe to move towards a dynamically multi-species, “sym-chtonic“, sym-poietic future: the Chthulucene.… [read more »]

Laboria Cuboniks in Conversation

Laboria Cuboniks is currently a group of 6 women working together online to redefine a feminism adequate to the twenty-first century. They collectively wrote Xenofeminsim: A Politics for Alienation in 2014. Here, in conversation with Postcontemporary Issue guest editors Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik they discuss the dissatisfactions and limitations of historical feminism and the importance of theorizing “the future” as a feminist project. Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: The initial formulation of your political… [read more »]

Situating Global Forms: An Anthropology of Cosmopolitan Science

Aihwa Ong, interviewed by Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik Constructing Globality Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: Your anthropological research pays close attention to specific emerging and inventive configurations of globally-constituted modernization, particularly in East Asia and its diaspora. Throughout this work you identity many ways in which ‘things that used to be fused together — identity, entitlement, territoriality, and nationality — are being taken apart and realigned in innovative relationships and spaces by neoliberal technologies… [read more »]

Ways Of Living ⎮ Arcadia Missa

Ways of Living, curated by the team behind Arcadia Missa, moves beyond the home as a site of political contestation and into the working place, the artist studio, the public sphere, and nature. While so-called ‘social practice’ taught us that any attempt of art to engage with issues outside its own institutional reality are easily coopted into the mythologizing machinery of individualism and patriarchy, art still possesses an ability to address issues far beyond the… [read more »]

What is at Stake in the Future? | Alex Williams & Nick Srnicek

Every ‘future’ inscribes a demand upon the present. This is so whether at the level of human imagination, or within the sphere of political or aesthetic action necessary to reach towards their realisation. Futures make explicit the implicit contents of our own times, crystallising trajectories, tendencies, projects, theories and contingencies. Moreover, futures map the absent within the present, the presents which could never come into actuality, the wreckage of dreams past and desires vanquished. Futures… [read more »]

Dog Plays | Hayley Silverman

Hayley Silverman’s “Dog Plays,” an ongoing series in which a cast of untrained dogs take on the role of characters from a range of pop-culture texts, disrupt the canon of identities traditionally represented in Hollywood as they are re-inhabited by animals. Calling on artifacts ranging from Richard Linklater films, to science-fiction thrillers, to Depression-era musicals that rhapsodize class difference, these performances investigate how our understanding of narrative, authority and identity transforms when we project stories,… [read more »]

A poem by Ser Serpas

ripped apart you rip me apart collage million dead collage donde queda mi cuerpo el temporal como dios en mil partes clothing as point of impact a totem is a wrap around a city as it is engagement with one’s surroundings and engagement with that which has been worn out discarded and filtered into alms buckets and newly tagged i wear my surroundings on my feet when it wears out i see only my vantage… [read more »]

DISCREET Call for Participants

DISCREET – An Intelligence Agency for the People The 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art invites you to apply for one of fifteen spaces open to individuals interested in taking an active part in a three-week-long public workshop conceived of by Armen Avanessian and Alexander Martos for the formation and development of a civil secret service organization. Held from June 22 to July 11, 2016, the workshop brings together renegade experts from art, theory, technology,… [read more »]

Parent and Parroting | Nancy Lupo

Each year retail displays are readied in preparation for the gestation and labor of the catch-all holiday season before floating into a colorless postnatal celebration of mundane plenty. Capitalism’s sympathetic pregnancy makes for a cold and lifeless pas de deux, at times humorously inseparable from the vitality of social milestones. In Parent and Parroting, Nancy Lupo continues with a series of interventions into commercial products and industrialized food. Her interferences often reveal or reconfigure the… [read more »]