Whitney Biennial 2017

Solo en Inglès

Jon Kessler (b. 1957), Exodus, 2016. Mixed media with motor, surveillance camera, and LCD screen, 81 × 47 × 66 in. (205.7 × 119.4 × 167.6 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy the artist and Salon 94, New York. Photograph by Genevieve Hanson

Jon Kessler: My name is Jon Kessler. These are two large, mechanical sculptures that have video components, live video components. They're based on research I've been doing the last couple years about climate change.

One of them is called Exodus, and I started making that actually during the Syrian refugee crisis. And I was already thinking about the enormous amount of refugees that are going to be exiting from low-lying countries—the Solomon Islands, the Seychelles, Bangladesh. I mean, it's going to make any of the refugee crises we've seen in the last three years look like nothing.

In this piece what you've got is a live camera trained on figurines that I've gotten all on eBay. But they're all figures with bags, and backpacks, and carrying their belongings. And so it's this endless march. And then what happens with the video component, because it's live video and because the camera is facing the monitor, it's a video feedback system so that it's actually complicating the image and it duplicates it. So it has, in a sense, three or four rows of figures making it look like even more of a mass exodus.

Narrator: The other sculpture is called Evolution. In some ways, Kessler thinks of it as the opposite of Exodus. If you’d like to hear him talk about it, please tap to continue.

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