London's Tate Modern on Wednesday unveiled a provocative art installation by United States artist Jordan Wolfson, as documented by an epa-efe reporter present at the press preview.
Wolfson's "Colored sculpture" features a boyish animatronic figure suspended from moving chains that was first exhibited in New York's David Zwirner gallery in 2016.
"I realized very early on that it wasn’t just the figure that was the sculpture: it was a total sculpture, where the chain was just as much a character as the boy," Wolfson said at the time in an interview with the art magazine "Kaleidoscope."
According to Tate's website, Wolfson drew inspiration from three representations of boyhood from vintage American pop culture: illustrations of Huckleberry Finn, Howdy-Doody (a cowboy puppet from a children’s TV show of the 1940s and 1950s) and Alfred E. Neuman, the mascot of the satirical magazine "Mad."
Apart from the figure and its movements, sound is an essential component of the installation, with the chains constantly clattering, an abrupt burst of soul music startling viewers and a disconcerting voice uttering a litany of sometimes threatening actions and desires.
"The figure can therefore be seen as both an aggressor and a victim," Tate's site explained. "The figure is all the more menacing because it is equipped with sophisticated facial recognition technology so that its eyes can fix on viewers and return our gaze."
The words were read by Wolfson himself playing a fictional persona, much like the narrator in a novel.
In the same interview with Kaleidoscope, the now-37-year-old artist explained his creative process for this work.
"Every decision I made in making this artwork, I didn’t ask myself intellectually, I asked myself intuitively and physically, what did I feel more for?" Wolfson said.
"What felt more? What do I feel more? That was really my compass," he added.
"Colored sculpture," featured in the Tate's Tanks gallery, opens to the public on Thursday.