27 February - 21 March 2015

‘Where is the boundary between so-called morality and madness? How can the gap between these two areas be bridged artistically, in view of the fact that the artist himself is positioned somewhere between these two extremes? And also “What happens in our mind and in what way does that affect our disposition and its emotional state?” Aroused by these questions, the participants in Thomas Zipp’s mental laboratory gain access to a mind-related performance that provides mutual insights into the different areas of neurological research as well as neuropathology.


- Zdenek Felix, The Artist as Therapist, 2013

for the 55th Venice Biennale in collaboration with the KAI 10 | Arthena Foundation


For his fourth solo exhibition at Alison Jacques Gallery, Thomas Zipp will present a new series of paintings on canvas. This body of work examines the relationship between actor and observer by transforming the gallery into an open field of experimentation. The presentation relates to Zipp’s installation at the 2013 Venice Biennale where he created an elaborate installation that focused on research into the psyche whilst questioning recent ‘developments’ in this field. For The Observer as a System with Feedback, Zipp will employ the psychophysical and psychoanalytical theories of Wilhelm Reich, specifically Reich's text Sex-Pol (which shares it’s name with the group Reich founded in 1931).  

These theoretical texts from Sex-Pol, which appear both visually in Zipp's paintings and conceptually through his performance, document the continuation of Reich’s Freudo-Marxist project. Reich’s efforts influenced the Frankfurt School leading him to believe that sexual repression not only caused neurosis but held one back from accepting revolutionary change. Coining the phrase ‘the sexual revolution’ to describe the genital utopia that would follow its overthrow, the volume contains Reich’s critiques of bourgeois sexual morality, anthropological musings on the origins of sexual repression and impassioned calls for the sexual freedom of youth[1].  In one of the new paintings A.B.: Time Distortion, Zipp focuses on the phenomenon of hypnosis – integrating part of the text that explains the technique of time distortion (to hypnotize oneself) onto the surface of the canvas itself.


During the private view, there will be a performance including uniformed dancers, and actors will move under the influence of remote controls. As singers recite Reich’s text and performers assume a mixture of classic ballet and military style positions, a mobile fence surrounding the dancers moves back and forth whilst a camera drone documents the performance. Arranged like that of an open field of experimentation, the remote controls further develop upon Larry Hailos’s machines which where employed in the American choreographer Deborah Hay's dance composition Solo (1966)Zipp addresses control in relation to the physical, sexual and psychological components of the human mind. As the gallery space is transformed into a laboratory for psychological study, the viewers and performers are synthesised, simultaneously influencing each other. 


Thomas Zipp (Born in Heppenheim, 1966) lives and works in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include the 55th Venice Biennale (2013) in collaboration with KAI 10 | Arthena Foundation; Sammlung Goetz, Munich and South London Gallery, London. Museum group shows include: CIAC, Ghent, Belgium (2014); Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Canada (2014); Paperworlds, me Collectors Room, Berlin (2014); and I knOw yoU, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2013). Major collections include: Sammlung Goetz, Munich; La Colección Jumex, Mexico City; and the Rubell Collection, Miami.



[1] Christopher Turner, ‘Sex-Pol: Essays, 1929-1934 by Wilhelm Reich – review’. The Guardian online, 1 May 2013






Orwell House Experiments (The Observer as a System with Feedback)


The equipment within the gallery space relates to the performance element of the exhibition.


The performers are given uniforms (boiler suits, work boots, masks and hats) and have the opportunity to dance on remote-controlled platforms; sing/speak from the microphone and play with musical instruments that are set up in the gallery (drums, keyboards, electric flute, synthesizers).


The participants should work freely with each other, switching places and allowing the experiment to evolve of its own accord.


The nature of the performance is that a field of experimentation will occur as the performers begin controlling each other with remote devices within a theatrical stage for psycho-physical investigation.


There will be a performance at the gallery at 4.30pm, every Saturday during the exhibition.