Though animatronics were developed by Walt Disney in the 1960s, there is nothing Disney-esque about the animatronic doll currently on view at David Zwirner Gallery. Dancing before a large mirror in a private room in the gallery, which visitors can enter two at a time, this work by 33-year-old artist Jordan Wolfson is dressed in a scanty white body suit, thigh-high patent leather boots, and has dirt marks across her body. When she locks eyes with you, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced, and you kind of want to run.
“My mother’s dead. My Father’s dead. I’m gay. I’d like to be a poet. This is my house.” These words seem to emanate from the doll, but the voice is that of a man—Wolfson’s recorded voice, in fact. Adding further tension to the display, the doll’s face is obscured by a dark “witch” mask that renders the doll somewhat threatening while you’re simultaneously drawn in by her seductive movement and her gaze. The doll, which has been designed with the help of a special effects studio in Los Angeles, comes replete with facial recognition technology so that when you look at her, she looks right back at you while she shimmies.
The overall effect of the sexy doll in the witch’s mask is similar to that of Wolfson’s videos, some of which feature animated characters that have both alluring and repellent qualities. Animation, masks, a 2011 video, features a stereotypical Shylock-esque Jew who alternates between flipping through a Vogue magazine and “speaking” directly to the viewer, though the speech heard is a sexy dialogue between a man and a woman.
The exhibition, which runs through April 19, at David Zwirner’s 19th Street compound, also features Wolfson’s video Raspberry Poser—which is making its New York debut—along with several sculptural wall works composed of inkjet prints and bumper stickers. As for the doll, call ahead. Time slots must be reserved.