The holidays have officially begun! We hope everyone’s Thanksgiving weekend was relaxing and filled with acceptable proportions of food. This week, I am here to tell you about a new artwork that Mr. Broad, aka the pimp of the contemporary art world, has acquired for this ever growing collection – Jordan Wolfson’s (Female figure), 2014.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this artwork is a life-sized, animatronic sculpture equipped with facial recognition technology that enables it to see and respond to viewers.
Below is a short clip of what it looks like. This is also the clip that I show to people before I try to explain what this artwork is:
I know what’s going through your mind right now and yes, it’s weird AND scary. The artwork itself is situated in front of a mirror with a rod that sticks out and connects to its torso. It stands alone in one of four white walls with speakers blasting loud music on each side of it.
Jordan Wolfson explains himself:
“I was mostly just interested in the physicality of what I’d seen in the animatronic field, and I was also interested in making a sculpture that had the potential to be chronological or structural in the same way a video is. My hope is that the work dips in and out of spectacle.”
Below is a description of the artwork itself:
(Female figure), 2014, is an immersive environment that features a robotic sculpture. For seven minutes, the robot gives monologues and dances to pop songs. Startling and unnerving, the work raises the specter of misogyny and exposes fissures in pop culture. It challenges the ways women are represented, and the ways images of women are consumed.
The sculpture resembles a hypersexualized female, but it also complicates such a reading and evades easy consumption. In a brightly lit room that is more sterile than sensual, the robot wears a witch mask and is covered in black smudges. The figure faces a mirrored wall to which it is attached by a rod piercing its torso. Traditionally, art is a one-directional experience: you alone observe the artwork. Here, however, the robot uses facial recognition software to “look at” the viewer, returning your stare. This may feel like the sculpture is objectifying you, treating you like an object.
(Female figure) challenges assumptions about gender, sexuality and even our status as human subjects.
I was fortunate enough to see this installation in person, not only once, but twice (and a third time already lined up for mid-December). I have been wanting to see this artwork in person ever since its appearance at Wolfson’s first solo show at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York in 2014. It caused such confusion in social media, and now four years later it finally found its home at the Broad. But being in the room with it and finally getting to see it in person was something I had never experienced before. It locked eyes with me every once in a while and made me feel uncomfortable. At one point it locked eyes with me for about three minutes, and I suddenly felt deprived of all senses, but I could not stop staring at it. I had to look around the room and find my partner’s gaze to remember where I was!
In all honesty, I recommend people to see this artwork at least once in their lifetime. You will most definitely NOT be disappointed.
(Female figure), 2014 is currently on view at The Broad Museum at 221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012 and requires a timed ticket, which must be reserved in advance. It is on view Thursday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to closing (8 p.m.), and on Sunday from 10:15 a.m. to closing (6 p.m.), October 11, 2018, through January 20, 2019, with a break from November 29 through December 2 due to scheduled maintenance. Timed tickets will be released on The Broad’s website every Monday at noon PT for the current week. For example, tickets will be available at noon on October 8 for October 11-14. Availability is subject to change. Due to the nature of the installation, tickets are extremely limited.