Jenkin van Zyl, Cabin Pressure, 2020


We go downstairs. It might take some time for your eyes to adjust. I’ve been told that my offices are remarkably dim, but this is how I like it. I’m not interested in seeing you clearly, your pores and tattoos. I’d rather pretend. I’d rather get a whiff of you and make up the rest.

Cabin Pressure (2020), is the site-specific artwork by Jenkin van Zyl in which the gallery space is completely distorted to accommodate the staging of the artist’s delusional and grotesque vision. The installation takes the form of a preparatory study for the creation of a video work: the thoughts, suggestions, objects and characters that animate the artist’s world converge in the space. In the semi-dark seats of an airplane appears pencil drawings in which creatures halfway between human and rabbit are dressed in latex clothes and are intent on doing orgies and strange Libyan rituals, until arriving at a more secluded room: the aircraft toilet. The small room, illuminated by the dim and seductive light produced by a moving discoball, is enriched with clues that the artist arranges in the space so as to enrich the plot of the narrative under construction: bloody dice inside the sink, dirty canvas bags hung on the walls and then a text.

In collaboration with the writer Brittany Newell, van Zyl enriches the narrative system of Cabin Pressure with a text that defines the setting, the plot and the characters while maintaining the mystery that characterizes the site-specific work. By making this setting, the artist creates an imaginary in which different role-playing games are combined, just like in the delusional drawings in which the human-rabbits take on roles that do not belong to them and play with reality, bringing erotic tensions and desire to the limit balance between pleasure and pain.

In the wreckage of my offices, I take fantasy seriously.

Elements that seems to be chaotic and distant finds their union in the game of mirrors and in gambling, recalled by objects such as the text or the dices found in the sink. Jankin van Zyl, fearlessly manifesting his fantasies and obsessions, allows the observer to enter a dark and frightening but incredibly attractive dimension: like any perversion, fear merges with curiosity by questioning the ethical values in which one traditionally believes.

I’ll open the window and address the animals, gathered neatly at my feet: my love must be a king of blind love… I can’t see anyone but you… sha-bop sha-bop… They watch me, still as props, and never sing along.

Van Zyl’s art practice and Cabin Pressure are defined as an act of love: the words taken from the text of I Only Have Eyes For You, a song by Flamingos, are configured as a declaration of the artist’s passion and obsession towards creative thinking and places of imagination. By breaking down the distinction between fantasy and reality, the artist offers a dive into the dark places of our drives, embracing the grotesque and showing its disruptive beauty.


Jenkin van Zyl
Cabin Pressure, 2020
Installation view at Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London © courtesy the artist

Jenkin van Zyl, Cabin Pressure, 2020 Installation view at Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London © courtesy the artist

Jenkin van Zyl, Cabin Pressure, 2020
Installation view at Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London © courtesy the artist