Surrender (2023) Film Still
Somerset House Studios resident

Jenkin van Zyl

Jenkin van Zyl is a multi-disciplinary artist based in London who makes hallucinant, narrative installations, typically centred on film.

Somerset House Studios
New Wing

Often initiated by guerilla filmmaking on the ruins of Hollywood movie sets, van Zyl’s projects orbit around fantastical countercultural communities: ghouls breeding cakes in aircrafts, latex inflatables hazed in a desert fortress, and rats competing in dance marathons.

Conjured with a queer irreverence, one that is attentive to the power and politics of fantasy, his films perform carnivalesque explorations of abandoned yet grandiose neoliberal landscapes. Through this world-making van Zyl takes us on an underworld revolt of transient spaces: the hotel, the airport, the desert, the casino, the stage, the set.

His films cycle through patterns of creative and destructive phenomena, away from the tyranny of individual identity towards a wilfully anti-patriarchal and communal celebration of collapse. Binaries of front and back-stage, self and other, desire and revulsion are displaced by instability, entropy and multiplicity.

Beyond the screen these worlds have a material legacy as sculptural escapees, and are often shown within cinemas built from reconfigured materials such as pneumatic tube systems, infinity mirrors and fuselage. Here bodily excess is firmly reinstated within the celebratory, bacchanalian realm. Harnessing hopeful, if not always pleasurable, spaces of potentiality, van Zyl utilises productive criticality of mess and decay as a disruptive response to the disordered state of global cultural politics.

Machines of Love, 2020

'In all his sensuality, violence and threat, Jenkin Van Zyl leaves you feeling some powerful, overwhelming emotions, proving that he’s one of the most exciting young artists in the UK today.'

Eddy Frankel

Jenkin van Zyl received a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy, London in 2021 and was the recipient of the Gold Medal Prize.

Van Zyl’s recent presentations include solo presentations Surrender, Edel Assanti, London; Machines of Love, Tramway, Glasgow; Vore, Rose Easton, London; Cabin Pressure, Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London; Oblivion Industry, The Horse Hospital, London and selected group presentations at Barbe à Papa, CAPC, Bordeaux, Kiss my Genders, Hayward Gallery, London and The Horror Show!, Somerset House, London.

Looners-(2019) installation view
Looners-(2019) installation view