- Source: ARTFORUM
- Author: CHLOE WYMA
- Date: MAY 01, 2018
- Format: PRINT AND DIGITAL
GAVIN BROWN'S ENTERPRISE | DOWNTOWN
Satterwhite’s use of his mother’s drawings courts delicate problematics of authorship and asymmetrical power as much as it critiques condescending genres of “naive” or “outsider” art. As Eva Díaz noted in a 2013 Artforum review, Satterwhite, “in his role as artist, is able to organize and reenergize [Patricia’s] rituals of therapeutic imagemaking . . . while simultaneously inviting the wider public to engage, possibly empathetically, with the moments of eccentric creativity in her obsessions.” At Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Satterwhite takes this gesture a step further, using his authorial voice, not only to reframe his mother’s designs in a fine-art context, but also—in an approximation of her retail ambitions—to actualize them as merchandise. Beneath a pink neon sign reading PAT’S a gift shop is installed at the front of the gallery, stocked with items (produced with the stylist David Casavant) such as lunch boxes, pencils, phone cases, lighters, and dishware branded with Patricia’s drawings.
In his essay written for the exhibition, art historian Jack McGrath interprets the store as a gesture of recompense. Pat’s gift shop, he writes, “leverages a son’s cultural capital to drive the economic circuits from which his parent was systematically excluded.” But the store also suggests a second, more fraught reading. Satterwhite’s mid-priced editions honor his mother’s creations while they anticipate and lean into the commodification of alterity that conditions the reception of her art and, in a different way, his own. “No matter what I do, I’m aware of metonymy and the codes associated with bodies, genders, races, mental illness, outsider, insider,” Satterwhite has said. “I’m aware of what queerness really is. Queerness for race, queerness for everything.” Despite superficial appearances, the queerness of Satterwhite’s art isn’t heterotopic or carnivalesque. Like that of its cyborg libertines, Blessed Avenue’s power flows in a feedback loop between reification and subjectivity, alienation and jouissance.