I do love it when I come across art that I have no frame of reference for, that stops me in my tracks. This animatronic kid in chains at Tate Modern, by American artist Jordan Wolfson (the younger) is extraordinary.
The title, ‘Colored Sculpture’ gives little clue. A big polyurethane child puppet, chained to an overhead gantry, is dragged, hauled, dropped, flung and dangled repeatedly, while sudden bursts of Percy Sledge’s classic ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ play intermittently then cease. At times the figure hangs near motionless while the eyes cycle through an array of weird permutations and the artist’s voice recites clipped cryptic messages.
The eyes have it. The puppet has facial recognition software installed and when that blue gaze fixes on you, intense and defiant, it knows you. The effect is unsettling. There is challenge and accusation, but you don’t know what of. And what’s the expression on that kid’s face? Childlike innocence it ain’t.
The piece is loud, violent, powerful and disconcerting. I’ve been back four times and still don’t know what to make of it but I was mesmerised every time. A metaphor for life? Or maybe no meaning at all. But it’s brilliant.
Unfortunately the site won’t accept large files so I can’t post the videos here, just stills. But my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/martin.ash.5496 has the vids. Turn up the volume.