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WEBSITE 72dpi FACT Jenkin Van Zyl OCTOBER 2023 Rob Battersby 7

Surrender (2023)

by  Jenkin van Zyl

part of  Jenkin van Zyl

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Film, installation environment and sculpture

Jenkin van Zyl (b.1993) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in London who makes hallucinant, narrative installations, typically centered around film. Conjured with a queer irreverence that is attentive to the power and politics of fantasy, these films perform carnivalesque explorations of abandoned yet grandiose landscapes.

Spanning our ground floor galleries, the installation extends Jenkin's latest film work Surrender (2023), with new sculptural elements. The artist presents two large-scale immersive environments, including an energy-drink lined trophy room and ballroom setting found within the domed stomach of a giant inflatable metallic rat. Two inflatable rat tails hang intertwined from the buildings ceiling.

Inside the ballroom, Surrender (2023) plays on an endless loop and follows the experience of GRACE. After checking into the P.E.E.P love hotel, GRACE, along with other paired couples, begins to compete in a series of tournaments that play with the limitations and expansiveness of the body. Fuelled by an endless stream of energy drinks, it’s unclear whether GRACE’s drive to participate emerges from an insatiable yearning or from a desire for escapism, community, oblivion or victory.

Van Zyl’s hallucinatory film conflates this ‘rat race’ with the ‘rat king’, a lethal and rare natural phenomenon where the tails of rats become fused together. The work questions notions of individuality and collectivity, exploring how community-building can foster belonging, allyship, and resistance, despite neoliberal frameworks often inducing competition for survival. Dense with references to queer club culture, cinema, and the dance marathons of the 1930’s Great Depression, Surrender (2023) draws viewers into an unstable world where suffering and defiance become spectacles for entertainment.