Phillip Zaiser’s work takes material negotiation as departure point for theatrical invention. His sculptures and installations are as much about the processes of their physical construction as the suggestive narratives they present. With past projects including a safari of animal-shaped MDF packing crates, and a tree compiled from reconstituted wood chips, Zaiser’s brand of absurd formalism takes making to the most illogical conclusions to disrupt systematical modes of expectation and interpretation.
Created directly within Patricia Low Contemporary, Zaiser’s Birds transform the gallery space from white cube to bizarre mystical site. Inspired by primitive artefacts, Zaiser’s assembled installation made from rocks is dysfunctional from its inception; its clunky round components defy architectural rationale to forge their own syntax of anti-physics and wonky geometry. Encased in custom-fabricated cages, Zaiser frames his sculptures as simultaneously barbaric and domesticated; humorously parodying musicological etiquette.
The strange elegance of Zaiser’s monuments is echoed through his drawings and collages. Beautifully rendered pencil sketches of cairns provide a model of authenticity for spatial subversion, their odd linear forms translating geological studies to abstract blueprints. His collages suggest weird ornithic figures that hypnotically oscillate between prehistoric fetish and futuristic design.
Approaching making as a form of dramaturgy, Zaiser’s works operate similar to stage sets that synchronously evoke illusion and reveal the devices of their construction, exploiting the modes of cultural production and reception as co-dependant façade. Blurring cognation and instinct, the corporeal and metaphysical, haptic and conceptual, his projects intertwine multi-layered mythologies – from pop cultural references to historical lineage – using the strategies of narrative as a methodology for creative experimentation and problem-solving.
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