[Art] Female Figure, by Jordan Wolfson

Female Figure is a dancing animatronic with eye tracking technology (which means she can look at you), in a sexy, white outfit showing off most of her bottom, but she doesn’t offer an easy sexiness, she is severely stained and witch-like masked. She is attached to a mirror with a stick just below her heart, that allows for a bit of vertical movement. Pop music plays. She ‘talks’, ‘my mother is dead, my father is dead, I am gay’ and more sinister because it is a direction for the viewer: ‘Close your eyes.’

This installation is popular, but not well received by critics. Overall it has been called a mere spectacle, unbalanced, superficial, misogynous, a mixture of pop culture and art but reduced to ‘horror, the cheapest effect of all’ (to quote Timo Feldhaus).

Art is usually there to be observed, enjoyed, criticized, preferably over coffee afterwards. It is an object, safe. But Female Figure looks back. You cannot help but react immediately to it and it made me feel ill at ease.  It was technology –  with sharp teeth – wrapped in a female figure, but that familiar feminine shape didn’t make it known. Still, it was the similarity to a human that created this effect (a dancing tree would not have been disturbing).

Female Figure asks for a direct response, it makes you wonder as public how to act to this animatronic? I  found comfort in my phone, I made pictures, objectified it in that way. A cop-out.  I sort of wanted to close my eyes like she asked me to, to go all-in, but that would be too weird. I left with questions, questions that I felt on a physical level. Like horror, the body in most people cannot help but respond in some way, but unlike horrorfilms the viewer shares the same room with this figure.

Female Figure has horror-like qualities but horror is not just a cheap effect. This work has an immediate shocking effect, but that doesn’t mean it cannot touch upon existential questions.  Emotion is a direct form of judgment, and open to further exploration.

Later on YouTube I saw three young men, and they started to dance with her. I decided that was a better act than to make pictures. Do what she does, relate to her in dance, have at least movement to the same music in common.

After meeting Mr. X I changed my opinion about the dancing boys. Was it lust or finding a way to act around an animatronic that inspired them? Major, the synthetic protagonist of Ghost in the Shell , said that she was not made for dancing. Maybe she was onto something.


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