Both perversely pleasurable and pleasurably perverse, Jordan Strafer’s videos are absurd, fantastical, humorous, and, at times, violent meditations on power and the uniquely human capacity to inflict violence, be it physical, psychological, or both. The artist’s first solo museum exhibition, Jordan Strafer: Trilogy presents Strafer’s recent trilogy of videos PEP (Process Entanglement Procedure) (2019), SOS (2021), and PEAK HEAVEN LOVE FOREVER (2022), alongside a selection of related works on paper by the artist.
In her highly narrative videos, Strafer draws from both autobiography and a range of cultural sources to create what the artist refers to as “Mad Libs-like” collages of visual and textual referents that include public testimonies, psychoanalytic theory, literature, and personal memory. Often employing both puppets or dolls and human actors, Strafer is interested in the ways that dolls can serve equally as archetypes of identity, objects of projection, and stand-ins or doubles for “real” actors. Periodically, human or silicone hands enter the frames to wipe a doll’s tear with a Qtip, or to caress and reposition it, simultaneously suggesting care, control, and containment. Strafer’s videos address the insidious and violent nature of whiteness, privilege, and misogyny, while serving less as a judgment on violence and cruelty than as a testament to their very existence.
Jordan Strafer: Trilogy will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue published by Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). Taking the form of an artist’s book, the illustrated publication will feature an essay by Rebecca Matalon, Senior Curator, CAMH, and a conversation between writer Bruce Hainley and Kyle Dancewicz, Deputy Director, SculptureCenter, New York.
This exhibition has sensitive content including nudity, violence, and references to suicide. Work in this exhibition contains flashing lights.
About the Artist
Jordan Strafer (b. 1990, Miami) is a New York-based artist working primarily in video. She received her BFA from The New School in 2016 and her MFA from Bard College in 2019. Strafer’s work has been included in group exhibitions at SculptureCenter, New York (2020); Red Tracy, Copenhagen, (2020–21); The New Museum, New York (2021); Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt, Berlin (2021); and Ludwig Forum, Aachen (2023). Strafer’s video, PEAK HEAVEN LOVE FOREVER (2022), was presented as part of the Currents section of the 60th New York Film Festival in 2022. Solo presentations of her work include PUNCHLINE at Participant Inc, New York in 2022, LOOPHOLE at Secession, Vienna, and MERCY NO NO at Heidi, Berlin in 2023.
Image caption: Jordan Strafer, SOS (video still), 2021. HD video, color and sound, 11:08 minutes. Courtesy the artist.
Jordan Strafer: Trilogy has been made possible by the patrons, benefactors and donors to CAMH’s Major Exhibition Fund: Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Sissy and Denny Kempner, Dillon Kyle and Sam Lasseter, MD Anderson Foundation, Rea Charitable Trust, Louisa Stude Sarofim, The Sarofim Foundation, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is funded in part by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.