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African Art Takes a Stretch

Sat May 24 2014 – Mon Sep 7 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Fourth Floor Galleries

A stark nude male stands alone on a pedestal. Nearby, over 100 men wearing spandex suits vogue their way through digital spaces. One might ask why they are together in the same gallery. One answer is: both are works of art that have recently come into the museum’s collection. The second answer is: they offer a chance to see how far African art has stretched in the last 100 years.

This male from Tanzania is an exemplar of the subtleties of sculpture created in the 20th century, with a slight twist to his torso and a face that calmly wards off intrusions. It may have once been employed in tornados of dance and singing duels, but now stands for the nuances of how captivating a figure is in 3 dimensions.

Across the gallery is a video projection by an artist who was inspired by African performance and a multitude of other influences. Jacolby Satterwhite’s Country Ball from 2012 is a catalytic tour de force example of media art. After his first solo exhibition in 2013, he was deemed a star with an “uncommonly elastic imagination.” How he uses technology to reveal his personal mythology is an uncommon vision best seen on the museum’s large screen.

Country Ball 1989-2012 (video still), 2012, Jacolby Satterwhite, American, b. 1986, HD digital video with color 3D animation and sound, running time 12:39 mins, Seattle Art Museum, Modern Art Acquisition Fund, 2013.3, © Jacolby Satterwhite.