06 December 2022 Through inflatable latex sculpture, Jenkin van Zyl's Vore explores the liminal space between the human and the monstrous.
In a windowless room on the first floor of Rose Easton in east London, a creature is stuck in a large brightly-lit glass vitrine. It resembles an enormous lizard or a bulbous dinosaur, mouse-brown and rubbery. Upon closer inspection, though, it’s potentially not one creature, but two: a monster and a human intertwined in a deadly embrace, caught in the act of consuming one another, or a strange erotic coupling. The glass enclosure is an infinity mirror on the inside, further defamiliarising various limbs and textures. It is a sight that evokes both the act of visiting zoos and museums as a child and the very adult world of sexual fetish.
“When making the inflatable latex sculptures, I work with this quality that some fetish gear has, somewhere between this language of a children's toy or something really infantile, and then also the look of super hardcore bondage,” says Jenkin van Zyl, the artist behind Vore, his most recent exhibition.
Partly inspired by an impossible fantasy he encountered in fringe online communities – vore refers to the extreme idea of being eaten and digested by someone (or something) alive – the installation also builds on Jenkin’s previous body of work. “The project that I was keen to continue is the film Looners, which was commissioned by the Hayward Gallery for the Kiss My Genders exhibition in 2019. It was shot in the Atlas Mountains in the big abandoned complex of Hollywood film sets,” he explains. “Within that film, there were latex inflatable characters that were roaming this huge desert, becoming objects of extreme desire, but also violence. What interested me in that film was the precariousness of the latex, how these characters get snagged or overinflated until they burst, like a perpetual cycle of inflation and destruction, the pleasure and pain precipice.”