2018.07.09 Mon, by Translated by: 房小然
The Long nose of the Puppet Master
Jordan Wolfson at Tate Modern

One of the best works of art I have seen recently was at the Tanks Tate Modern during the Young Patron’s Summer party. Middle aged and not a paying patron, I slipped in via a generous invitation list. While the new culture classes of young rich elite sipped their bubbly champagne, I was keen to head straight to Jordan Wolfson’s chained Pinocchio with luminous eyes gazing back in a projected fantasy of defiance and psychopathy. Its body strewn and yanked to the loud clinks of puppet chains seemed to mimic the clinking glasses in the party. The huge metal chains lashed beautiful oily abstract marks on a white floor, violently exaggerating a ballet of the body levitating and crumpling.

Somehow eliciting dark humour and empathy against what I imagine to be a surreal ritual from a JG Ballard novel or a Kubrickian film scene where the elite enjoy an evening with gold umbilical cords attached to Tate Modern baptised with delicious champagne while a gigantic tortured puppet dances in chains, perpetually a falling angel and cursed Phoenix. Under the stress of an endless performance it climatically snapped! Uncertain at first whether this was part of the work and almost wishing it was a choreographed cathartic relief it really was broken in half, a profound sign to retire as the Tate security ushered me away from the carnage….and Pinocchio.

I like the merging of Pinnochio and the Puppet master; who is the liar? Puppet? Master? Both? Us?

What is the nature of the lie? –The young party? –The conceit of the performance/art? I could keep going and refer to Bladerunner 2049 – replicants/androids/artificial humans who are more human than humans – the existential questions of what makes us who we are as human beings with souls; the desire for an artificial human to be a human. But what is the essence that defines that? These are important questions throughout the ages, that point to the universal core of who and what we are.

Anyway too much rambling…….I’m off to the studio!

Jordon Wolfson (b.1980) lives and works in Los Angeles and New York. ”Colored Sculpture” is showing at Tate Modern, London until August 26, 2018


Gordon Cheung is an artist based in London. He is currently showing in ’Doubting Thomas’ at Duddell’s London, Curated by Ying Kwok, until 24 Sept 2018. Gordon will have a solo show at Galerie Huit, Hong Kong in November.