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Jordan Wolfson: Riverboat song

By turns surreal, deadpan, and mischievous, Riverboat song combines computer-animated vignettes and found video clips with pop soundtracks and a monologue voiced by the artist. Since its debut at Sadie Coles HQ, London, last year, the work has been revisited and expanded by Wolfson, who has added new scenes that will be shown here for the first time. On view at the gallery’s 533 West 19th Street location, this will be the artist’s third solo exhibition with David Zwirner.

Over the past decade, Wolfson has become known for his thought-provoking works in a wide range of media, including video, sculpture, installation, photography, and performance. Pulling intuitively from the world of advertising, the Internet, and the technology industry, he produces ambitious and enigmatic narratives that frequently feature a series of invented and appropriated animated characters.

Presented across a sixteen-monitor video wall, Riverboat song revolves around one of the artist’s recurring figures, a Huckleberry Finn/Alfred E. Neuman hybrid that appeared in animatronic form in his 2016 work Colored sculpture. Opening with a seductive dance number and later delivering a cajoling and coercive address to an absent lover, this figure is but one of a disparate array of animated avatars, including a group of smoking rats, a pair of horses, and a bathing crocodile, that Wolfson employs throughout the video. The closing section of the work shows Wolfson surfing through YouTube, with clips ranging from instructional videos to a vicious brawl that served as the impetus for the artist’s 2017 virtual reality work Real violence, which was featured in the Whitney Biennial that year. In Riverboat song, as in much of his work, the artist creates an idiosyncratic juxtaposition of banality and barbarity that speaks directly to the algorithmic logic of contemporary digital culture.

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