Jordan Wolfson, “(Female Figure)” (2014), Photograph by The Untitled Team at The Brant Foundation

The Brant Foundation
Jordan Wolfson: (Female Figure)
October 12th – December 31st, 2022

On October 12th, The Brant Foundation opened its exhibition of Jordan Wolfson’s (Female Figure), which was last exhibited in New York City in 2014. Prior to viewing the animatronic sculpture, there is very little information available about what exactly one is about to witness. The gallery staff tells visitors only that the artist wants everyone to enter with no prior impressions or judgments clouding their minds. Tickets for free 15-minute viewings are sold out through the exhibition’s nearly three-month run, so visitors need to wait in hopes of securing a spot from a no-show. 

When admission is granted, an elevator takes four viewers at a time up to an artwork-specific room housing a robot who is staring at her own reflection. She is attached to the mirror by a metal rod, clad in a monstrous green mask with a hooked nose, a skimpy white dress that’s ripped at the seams, and a pair of tall, white boots. She contracts and expands her arms and speaks to her reflection in the large, white space: “My mother is dead, my father is dead, I’m gay, I’d like to be a poet, this is my house.” She raises her arms and begins dancing to pop music, moving her hips back and forth as she squats and then stands with her arms reaching out and fingers grasping at the air. She dances to various changes in the music, and then there is an ominous pause as she grasps at the air, whispering hoarsely and unintelligibly to the viewer before resuming her dance routine.

Toward the end of the show, she issues commands to the viewer: “Touch your love… touch your hate… close your eyes,” repeating herself and making direct eye contact through the mirror until she decides to move on with her performance. The impact is disorienting and jarring, yet thoroughly engaging. (Female Figure) captures the viewer’s attention and imagination does she exist as a commentary on fetishization in the performance world? Is she an ode to technology for its role in the creation of art? Is she a symbol of the internal pain that celebrities channel into staged entertainment? She repeats this spectacle in 15-minute intervals while the Brant Foundation is open, taking the occasional scheduled break so that she does not overheat.

“(Female Figure)” is on view at The Brant Foundation through December 31st.

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