Jordan Wolfson: Colored Sculpture

Martyn White

Posted on August 04 2018

American artist Jordan Wolfson’s 'Colored sculpture' centres around a puppet figure being tortured in the tanks of the Tate Modern. 


Jordan Wolfson's 'Colored Sculpture' is not an installation for the faint-hearted. Being exhibited in the Tate Modern tanks until 26th August 2018, the installation consists of a 6ft puppet with chains attached to its head, an arm and a leg. Throughout the 'performance' the puppet is dragged across the floor, up into the air and dropped on its head. The response to the work is fascinating. There is such a sense of emotion and shock in the room, constantly changing at every second. 

Jordan Wolfson Colored Sculpture puppet at the Tate Modern Jordan Wolfson Colored Sculpture puppet at the Tate Modern Jordan Wolfson Colored Sculpture puppet at the Tate Modern Jordan Wolfson Colored Sculpture puppet at the Tate Modern

The boy's eyes are screens, frantically searching for people, making eye contact as he is thrown around the stage. One wants to feel sympathy as the loud noises and clanking of chains fill the room. The eyes and facial expression, however, are just so unnerving. Halfway through the performance, the puppet is suspended in front of the audience, its eyes bouncing up and down as Wolfson's voice echoes in the chamber. "Five: To touch you … 13: I killed you. 14: You’re blind … 16: To lift you … 18: To weigh you…" Are these things that the puppet wants to do to the audience? As the performance continues, sympathy turns to shock as the powerful display overwhelms the crowds. 



 

What I took away from the performance was the challenging of perceptions. We want to feel sorry for the boy as he is tortured in front of our very eyes but we have to keep on reminding ourselves that it is not a boy, it is a glossy fibreglass cast of a puppet that cannot feel pain, that is not aware of its surroundings, it does not know what it is. Once the puppet starts to speak, the audience is thrown into another situation. Does it want to harm us? Is it evil? As every page of the story unfolds, our opinions change. Some of us will sympathise, others will relish in its torture but the main lesson that comes from the work is that our opinions change when we are fed different information, this easily relates to current affairs and the media of today. Next time we read a story or watch an installation, can we take in the entire story before making our judgements?

Jordan Wolfson's Colored Sculpture is on display at the Tate Modern Tanks Wednesday through to Sunday until 26th August 2018. To find out more, click to view the official Tate Modern website via the link. 


 



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