Satellite Art Show 2024: A Provocative Exploration of Body, Sexuality, and Culture

The Satellite Art Show, held in Brooklyn this June, once again pushed the boundaries of contemporary art, offering a diverse and thought-provoking collection of works. This year's exhibition, housed in a 5- story warehouse, showcased artists who fearlessly tackle complex themes through various mediums, challenging viewers to reconsider their perspectives on the human body, spirituality, and cultural identity.

At the forefront of this year's show was Elsa Marie Keefe's bold and controversial installation and largest piece to date, "The Most Dangerous Animals [humans]”. Keefe is known for her unapologetic approach to nudity in art and was recently featured on the TV show Naked and Afraid as a contestant. The centerpiece of her installation was a massive 12x15' mixed media work titled "The Most Dangerous Animals [humans]," which served as both backdrop and integral component of her performance.

Keefe's performance, a collaboration with dancer Lillian, whom she had met just two days prior to the show, was a raw and intimate exploration of the human form in relation to nature. The two performers engaged in an improvisational dance, their nude bodies becoming living canvases as they interacted with natural elements, most notably dirt. The performance was a testament to the power of spontaneity and trust in artistic collaboration, with Lillian's dance experience perfectly complementing Keefe's vision.

One of the most poignant moments of the performance came when Lillian covered Keefe's body with dirt. In a touching display of respect and cultural sensitivity, Lillian chose to begin with Keefe's feet, drawing inspiration from various traditions that revere elders through foot-touching or washing. This simple yet profound gesture underscored the vulnerability inherent in nude performance and the importance of mutual care and respect between artists.

Keefe's work is deeply rooted in her personal journey as a nudist and her mission to challenge societal norms surrounding body image and sexuality. Her large-scale pieces, rich in texture and vulnerability, incorporate natural elements such as bones, flora, crystals, and dirt, emphasizing the cyclical nature of existence. By blending her commercial work with her personal artistic practice, Keefe has become an advocate for healthy naturist lifestyles, facilitating women's healing circles and collaborative photographic experiences.

In an interview with Sasha Bernier of Creativo, Keefe delved into the concepts underlying her work. She emphasized her goal of promoting body positivity and combating unrealistic beauty standards for both women and men. Keefe's journey to self-acceptance through nude photography has inspired her to help others find similar comfort in their own bodies. Moreover, she is passionate about decoupling nudity from sexuality, challenging the automatic sexualization of the naked form and promoting respect for bodies in their natural state.

"The Most Dangerous Animals [humans]," Keefe's largest piece to date, is a visual testament to her artistic evolution. Created through a performance-like process that involved the artist painting with her own body, the piece incorporates photographs spanning a decade of Keefe's experiences in nudist colonies. The sheer scale of the work immerses viewers in a world where the human form is celebrated in its most natural state, forcing contemplation of our relationship with our bodies and nature.

In stark contrast to Keefe's earthy, corporeal installation was the work of Joseph Smolin, a member of the Tiger Strikes Asteroid collective. Smolin, who traveled from North Carolina for the show, presented a series of pieces inspired by his synesthesia and informed by Catholic mythology. His standout sculpture, "Wishing Well," cleverly subverted religious iconography, inviting viewers to insert coins into a saint figure as a form of wish-making.

Smolin's work demonstrated a deep understanding of Catholic symbolism while simultaneously questioning and recontextualizing it. The wounded chest of the saint figure, pierced by arrows, spoke to the notion of suffering as a hallmark of holiness. This juxtaposition of sacred imagery with the mundane act of inserting a coin created a fascinating tension, inviting viewers to contemplate the nature of faith, sacrifice, and the commercialization of religion.

Adding a vibrant splash of color to the exhibition was the work of Jose Lara, a self-taught abstract/surreal artist based in New York City. Lara's background as an Ecuadorian immigrant infuses his work with a unique blend of cultural influences and personal narrative. His piece "Soul Kids Playlist" stood out as a vivid celebration of hip-hop culture and personal growth.

Dedicated to his brother's early days as a DJ and rapper, "Soul Kids Playlist" is a visual representation of the sounds and energy of 90s hip-hop. Lara's use of bold, almost neon hues creates a sense of movement and rhythm that perfectly captures the vibrancy of the hip-hop scene. The central image of a train serves as a powerful metaphor for his brother's journey from the streets to success, symbolizing progress and transformation.

The Satellite Art Show's curation deserves special mention for its ability to bring together such diverse artistic voices. The juxtaposition of Keefe's visceral, body-centric work with Smolin's religious commentary and Lara's cultural celebration created a rich tapestry of contemporary art that highlighted the multiplicity of perspectives in today's art scene.

Moreover, the show's commitment to showcasing independent and emerging artists continues to be its strongest asset. By providing a platform for voices that might be overlooked by more traditional galleries, the Satellite Art Show plays a crucial role in shaping the future of the art world.

The repurposed warehouse space added an additional layer of intrigue to the exhibition. The raw, industrial setting provided a neutral backdrop that allowed each piece to stand on its own merits while also creating interesting dialogues between the art and the environment.

The 2024 Satellite Art Show in Brooklyn was a testament to the vitality and diversity of contemporary art. It challenged viewers, provoked thought, and ultimately celebrated the power of creative expression. From Keefe's boundary-pushing performance art to Smolin's thought-provoking religious commentary and Lara's vibrant cultural explorations, the exhibition offered a comprehensive view of the current art landscape.

The show succeeded in presenting works that not only aesthetically pleased but also stimulated intellectual and emotional responses. It tackled important issues such as body acceptance, faith, cultural identity, and personal growth, all while maintaining a high level of artistic integrity. As the art world continues to evolve, exhibitions like the Satellite Art Show prove that the spirit of innovation and the courage to push boundaries are alive and well in Brooklyn and beyond.

Of interest for Creativo enthusiasts, the 5th anniversary of Creativo celebration will be held at Art Basel in Miami Beach! Elsa Marie Keefe was one of our first artists featured at the very first event, “Adam and

Eve” in 2019. Elsa returns to exhibit with us at “Adam and Eve: The Return” on December 6 in Miami. If you didn’t catch her this past weekend be sure to save the date!

Links to Artist Profiles:

Elsa Marie Keefe:

Joseph Smolin:

Jose Lara:

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