The film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis‘ novel “American Psycho“ is indelibly etched into my memory. It’s as if a chip had been implanted in my brain with data that I am unable to forget. Thomas Zipp’s “Achtung!: Solarized Deterritorialization, Insanity Against Protestantism (England Attacked by the Americas)” is an equally expressive achievement. Moreover, the two works share the same themes: schizophrenia and criticism of capitalism – broadly speaking, of course.
Let me start with a step-by-step deciphering of the work‘s very complex title: Solarization involves the distortion of a photograph through overexposure; deterritorialization refers to the appropriation of cultural symbols and the reinterpretation of them in a new context. This is precisely what is going on in Thomas Zipp’s work.
Zipp has already modified paintings from the history of art
This time Picasso‘s monumental painting “Guernica“ (1937) serves as his template. The artist has painted over single elements of the work or covered it with speech bubbles; using the silkscreen-on-canvas-technique, he has inverted the white and black coloring of “Guernica” – solarized, in a manner of speaking. Curling around them are quotations from the writings of Gilles Deleuze or Martin Luther, two writers who questioned the structure of their respective societies – in the same way, ultimately, that Picasso did in his anti-fascist historical painting “Guernica”.
Deleuze adds another psychological level
In his book “Anti-Oedipus“ (the first volume of “Capitalism and Schizophrenia“) he regards post-Freudian psychoanalysis as a tool to perpetuate capitalist repression. The subject is subordinated under the phallic structure of culture and duped into a materialistic scarcity consciousness. As a response Deleuze and psychiatrist Félix Guattari developed “schizoanalysis,” which is based on unconscious, not culturally organized wish fulfillment.
In Thomas Zipp’s work, the schizophrenic or unconscious is symbolized by speech bubbles. Capitalism – rendered a metaphor in the title “Insanity Against Protestantism (England Attacked by the Americas)” – is construed as a model that denies the instability of the material world and limits self-realization.
How to be guided by the unconscious
In a small room adjacent to the rest of the exhibition, Zipp demonstrates how to be guided by the unconscious in his latest video work “The World’s Most Complete Congress of RITATIN Treatments”. In the video ten masked women dance themselves into a trance. The artist calls this state “White Dada” – “happy, daring, dynamic and violent.”
So don’t be afraid of the unconscious! As long as nothing happens like in the film “American Psycho”, in which the main character starts committing murder, it’ll be fine!