Whitney Biennial 2017

Solo en Inglès

museum visitors using virtual-reality headsets

Jordan Wolfson, Real violence, 2017. Virtual-reality headsets, high-definition video, color, sound; 2:25 min. Collection of the artist; courtesy David Zwirner, New York, and Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photograph Bill Orcutt

Jordan Wolfson: I'm Jordan Wolfson.

The artwork is a virtual reality piece and it depicts a simulation of real violence, or as close to real violence as one can get through a simulation.

I believe that the experience of violence, or the experience of sexuality, or the experience of happiness, for example, these are all heightened states, and these are all witness states. Because they are heightened and witnessed, it's sort of like words on a page highlighted in bold. They pop out for us. They pop out for us in our memories, or even in our fears and expectations. So I'm imagining violence within this piece as a distortion, and as this distortion that lets you hypothetically look at violence anew.

I was interested in using VR because, in a way, I believe that this is a sculptural work, that you could call this work a body sculpture. This sculpture is not something that you're looking at, the sculpture is the body you're standing in, and that experience of you standing there in your body experiencing the work is the sculpted effects of the artwork.

Narrator: Curator Christopher Lew.

Christopher Lew: One of the things that really surprised me, in a sense, with this work by Jordan is that he’s using very cutting edge technology but he’s creating a work that is not necessarily about the technology. What he is tapping into is something that is deeply unsettling, deeply visceral, that is facilitated by virtual reality but is not just highlighting the excitement of the novelty of the technology.