Thomas Zipp: ‘3 Contributions to the Theory of Mass-Aberrations in Modern Religions’ @ Alison Jacques Gallery

Alison Jacques Gallery presents the solo show of German artist Thomas Zipp, ‘3 Contributions to the Theory of Mass-Aberrations in Modern Religions’. The exhibition literature explains that the title is based on one of Sigmund Freud’s most influential works on modern psychoanalysis, ‘Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex’.

Although Zipp only scratches the surface of Freud’s analysis, he seems to be placing a great emphasis on the first essay ‘Sexual Aberrations’, and more particularly on the occurring diptych of sexual instinct and object filtered via the predominant presence of the aim. Zipp applies this context to society’s religion attachments and re-creates a habitat that reflects the ubiquitous human anxiety and perversion.

In the main gallery room we find the mixed media installation ‘Polymorphous Oratory’ (2012). The space is converted into what is reminiscent of a catholic church. Its high altar comprises of a chair and a table with two gigantic ear cones placed right in front. The viewer is prompted to interact with the linked headphones to presumably hear a generated noise/sound. The installation also contains ten rectangular shaped neon lights perimetrically placed on a higher level (like church windows) and a system of electric votive candles in front of an aluminium painting, probably referring to a religious icon. The adjacent smaller room is transformed into a more private chapel area (without neon lights this time), containing three sections of electric votive candles (‘Submission Chapel’ 2012, ‘Partialistic Chapel’ 2012, and ‘Anxiety Chapel’ 2012) accompanied by an aluminium panting at the front of each and a collection of some 21 photographs showing rubber dolls in severe disrepair. There is a correlation between these photographs and the aluminium paintings. Instead of depicting any form of imagery, the latter have a deformed surface that was created by the use of various tools such as stiletto heels, a whip, a mushroom shaped grinder and a serrated saw blade. The photographs contain images of dolls with a deformed face or limbs, disturbingly similar to relevant footage associated with a police investigation after a sex crime.

Zipp’s environment, which at first appears as a place of worship, is heavily devoted to the esoteric human world; a private domain, where abyssal sexual desires and perversions conflict with religiosity and the do’s and don’ts of society. Zipp’s installations are a profound exploration of the psyche via a highly provocative inversion. He challenges society by focalising us directly within a sacred location and forcing us to face our ignominious deepest thoughts. His aluminium and silver paintings may also be interpreted as translucent media mirroring our own individual image, and the smaller photographs as the personification of instincts, impulses or fears. By pushing his presentation to extreme limits, Zipp veraciously exposes the inextricable repression and anomaly permeated throughout society despite any discomfort that this may generate.