Jacolby Satterwhite (American, born 1986), A Metta Prayer (still), 2023. HD color video, 3D animation in Autodesk Maya and Unreal Engine © Jacolby Satterwhite Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York
Exhibition Dates: Now–January 7, 2024
Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Great Hall
For the second in a series of commissions for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Great Hall, interdisciplinary artist Jacolby Satterwhite (born Columbia, South Carolina, 1986) has transformed the historic space with a site-specific multimedia installation. Titled A Metta Prayer, the project fuses choreography, video, animation, lighting, and music to reimagine a kaleidoscopic, computer-generated world within The Met’s Great Hall. The performance component of the installation will take place on select dates beginning October 14 and will feature live performances by the artist’s collaborators: Hairbone (Raul de Nieves with Jessie Stead), Ioanna Gika, KelseyLu, Kindness, Lafawndah with Nightfeelings, Patrick Belaga, serpentwithfeet, and Ahya Simone.
The Great Hall Commission: Jacolby Satterwhite, A Metta Prayer is on view Now, through January 7, 2024. Performances will take place at 7 p.m. on the following evenings: October 14, 27, and 28; November 4, 11, and 18; and December 2. Details can be found on The Met’s website. Dates are subject to change.
The commission is made possible by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky, and the Director’s Fund.
Additional support is provided by Sarah Arison, the Adrienne Arsht Fund for Resilience through Art, the Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Fund, Peter Steinberg and Kathrine Gehring, and Helen Lee Warren and David Warren.
Special thanks NYU Tandon @ The Yard, NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, and NYCAP3D for video production support.
Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French Director and CEO, said, “The Met’s contemporary commission series provide a platform for artists to respond on a grand scale to The Met and our collection in unexpected and dynamic ways. Jacolby Satterwhite’s powerful project for the Great Hall transports visitors into an alternate reality and identity where music, video, and performance combine to create a space of contemplation and celebration.”
Satterwhite’s ambitious installation at The Met is the result of a highly technical creative practice involving a myriad of software platforms and emergent technologies. Projected onto the walls of the Great Hall, the six-channel video features more than 70 animated objects from The Met collection that populate an imagined digital architecture. Live action sequences captured in three dimensions feature the artist’s frequent collaborators—including Solange Knowles, KelseyLu, and Moses Sumney and drag performers like Laveau Contraire and queer wrestling group Choke Hole—as characters within his narrative. Satterwhite animates these elements together with computer-generated imagery applying the logic of video games to his unique virtual world.
At a time when Black and LGBTQ+ communities face continued threats of violence, A Metta Prayerconstructs a digital space that both represents and expresses love, joy, and resilience. Satterwhite draws inspiration from the Buddhist Metta prayer, a mantra of loving-kindness, to build a narrative that rebels against the conventions of commercial video games. Rather than perpetuating violence, the characters in A Metta Prayer dance, perform, preach, and pose. Scenes inspired by endless runner platform games, in which players move forward, gain points, and avoid obstacles, show characters collecting mantra “coins” to achieve enlightenment. Encounters with police result in dance flash mobs. Heroes ascend from a dystopian city to a cloud-filled sky teeming with life. Throughout the 21-minute video cycle, Satterwhite deploys mindful repetition as a formal principle, linking the video’s rhythm to the recurrent nature of the Metta mantra. A soundtrack produced by PAT (Jacolby Satterwhite, Patricia Satterwhite, Nightfeelings, and Patrick Belaga) pulses with energy, providing the video with its driving beat.
About the Artist
Born in 1986 in Columbia, South Carolina, Jacolby Satterwhite received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Arts, Baltimore, and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Satterwhite’s boundary-pushing practice fuses a wide range of disciplines, such as performance, animation, music, painting, sculpture, and photography, to create immersive media installations.
Satterwhite’s work has been presented in numerous exhibitions and festivals internationally, including, most recently, the FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio (2022); Miller Institute for Contemporary Art, Pennsylvania (2021); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2021); Gwangju Biennale (2021); and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2021). His commissioned public art installation for Lincoln Center’s new David Geffen Hall in New York debuted in October 2022. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma, Helsinki; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.
The Great Hall Commission: Jacolby Satterwhite, A Metta Prayer is conceived by the artist in consultation with Lauren Rosati, Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art and Research Projects Manager in the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at The Met, and Limor Tomer, The Met’s Lulu C. and Anthony W. Wang General Manager of Live Arts.
The exhibition is featured on The Met’s website as well as on social media using the hashtags #MetGreatHall #MetJacolbySatterwhite.