Discovering that ‘universal insecurity’ in technology


If you are the sort of person frequently flummoxed by technology, such that you have occasionally considered hurling an appliance across the wall (not that we encourage this), you might want to amble over to the old Bantam Switch factory.

There, Jane:Terzian Projects is presenting “Object Possession,” the work of Berlin-based Andrzej Zielinski.

The exhibit provides the viewer with familiar subject matter — cell phones, fax machines and copiers — through works notable for their densely saturated color and generous layers of acrylic paint.

These are the sort of paintings that make you draw back a bit, in horror, primarily, but also in fascination. The colors are lurid and disharmonious. They look as though they were applied from some sort of confectionery stew pot, with all the gooey consistency of melted lollipops.

Somewhere, in these marzipan-like concoctions, you may spot a phone handset. Or a printer. Or a flip phone. Or any one of the wonders of modern technology that alternately better and bamboozle us. The German artist depicts these contraptions with an art-brut whimsy. The carnival colors mix with a cartoonishly imperfect composition. In “Pink Phone With Incoming Call,” Zielinski places a neon pink cordless phone, annotated with what look like lime green button candies, inside a gaudy green aurora of ripples. The kitshy yellow-green is articulated in brush strokes that suggest ringing. All that’s missing are the bold letters blaring “Ring! Ring!”

This is the phone as appealing menace. Its yummy pink and blue colors, which look like they belong inside a gum wrapper, disguise an intrusive, vulgar beast. This is the alluring guest who ends up being a tenacious boor.

It’s never entirely clear if Zielinski is intentionally distorting the objects, hurling them into discordant orbits to suggest that’s where

they belong, or suggesting that the asymmetry and dissonance is what afflicts us when we depend too much on these appliances.

Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

“Beneath the candy colors of Zielinski’s work,” Joe Fyfe wrote in Bomb, “he has discovered a universal insecurity. We are affronted by these machines that seem to know so much about us, that pretend to be our equals when they are simply temporarily filled with our money, our information. The music of our age is money and information.”

And speed. Zielinski’s work, with its thick, impastoed acrylic, frequently features swirling spirals of color, as in “Caller Unknown,” in which a vivid yellow swirl sits on a mottled purple background. Zielinski thus gives the work a frenetic intensity and energetic radiance. The broken sweetheart pink antenna swirls like a candy swivel stick.

What Zielinski captures, in works that are decidedly not for purists, is the push-pull allure of these objects. A sense of the violence of dismemberment colors works like “Pressurized Phone” or the chilling “Filming the Garden.”

In the latter, a cobalt blue camcorder, a thick, serpentine orange cord tethering it to some power source, presses itself into the viewer’s space. The silicon viewfinder, as well as the incriminating lens in the foreground, are articulated with a translucent gelatinous material that reveals garish tendrils of black and lime.

Zielinski thereby suggests that what we film looks less like treasured memories and more like pond scum.

The exhibit, which also includes less successful, oversized images of shredders, comes to Bantam via the roving curatorial team Jane:Terzian Projects, the partnership of artist Jessica Jane and art consultant Jennifer Terzian.

Contact Tracey O’Shaughnessy at
If You Go:
What: Object Possession Andrzej Zielinski
Where: The Switch Factory 2nd floor, 931 Bantam Rd, Bantam

When: Through Nov. 2.
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