"‘Oblivion Industry’ (2019) resulted out of a residency at the Horse Hospital in London with the dancer Ted Rogers. Acting as a bridge between my previous film project, ‘Looners’ (2019), and my subsequent work ‘Machines of Love’ (2020), ‘Oblivion Industry’ expanded on filming methodologies first developed during ‘Looners’ to create a looping labyrinth of chained monitors. Within it, a restless and inconsolable parade of characters appear to perform within the ballooned interiors of their own digestive tracts, in a flip-flop of embodiment and oblivion.
My last three projects were made on the ruins of abandoned Hollywood movie sets in queer reenactments of cinematic violence. In them, fantastical, absurd communities - stunt cowboys in a foley sound studio, ghouls breeding cakes in buried aircrafts, and inflatable creatures hazed against the ruins of a desert fortress - enact bewildering rituals in systems on the verge of collapse.
I have an attraction to phenomena that reside on the borderline between paradise and hell-scape, and my films play humorously within the genre of horror. I believe that at its most potent horror can redistribute fixed ideas of the self, yielding a grotesque pleasure in the wake of its ability to obliterate. Horror can show us the simultaneous terror and joy of being torn apart: to have fun with what hurts you.
With multiple outcomes of performance, installation and sculptural escapees, I set out to destabilise ideas of selfhood and bodily categories; rejecting binarisms of the real and virtual, front and back stage, self and other, style and content, and time and space. This, and the pressure point where notions of the original and the copy collapse, is encouraged in my films through the masked performer. During filming, silicone masks facilitate improvisation; anonymising performers into a species of nearly-human / almost-monstrous genders. These characters are multiple, unstable, deviant - an aggregate of images and words that can be remixed and revised, and by the same token bring freedom.
Queer culture has always been the compulsory yet optimistic laboratory for the construction of new heretical identities, and in my work I’m looking to encourage spaces of potentiality, where we can enrage, arouse, comfort, destabilise, fail and celebrate." - Jenkin van Zyl
Van Zyl is interested in the slippages between gender identities. Deliberately queering the macho history of violence, Van Zyl’s ecstatic cinematic fantasy is concerned with both reclaiming autonomy and the pleasure to be found in abandoning all control.
Jenkin van Zyl (b. 1993, UK) is an artist and filmmaker based in London with a multidisciplinary practice comprising film, performance, writing and sculpture. Van Zyl’s most recent projects have been shown at The Hayward Gallery, London (2019); The Horse Hospital, London (2019); Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (2019); and the Royal Academy, where they are currently completing their post graduate degree.
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