Bryan Zanisnik’s latest solo show at Horton Gallery consists of a series of new large-scale C-prints and a five-minute video, which, in short, depict the chaotic inner workings of a crowded consciousness.
The photographs show, in brilliant color, various studio installations of collections of objects: clocks, baseball cards, soap bottles, toy cars, greeting cards. Objects are melted together, tied up, hanging suspended. In Off Season, a triptych of filing cabinets appear to be in mid-explosion, but of an ordered sort, with birthday cards suspended in mid-air surrounded by squished white Wonder bread. In 18 Years of American Dreams, dried-up corn stalks ominously stand tall in a room with a wall-paper of baseball cards, littered with cheap crowns, the kind that kids get as a gimmicky prize for visiting restaurants like Burger King. These collections reference boyhood obsessions, excessive Americana, constructions of a sort of cloying guilt and anxiety for material desires and cheap, yet always unfulfilling, satisfaction. Filled to the brim, but still seeming empty, they’re like a stomach full of Wonder Bread and diet soda.
Zanisnik really shines in his video and performance works, wherein he dissects his family issues and childhood memories, invariably featuring his actual mother and father in starring roles. They star as themselves, yet simultaneously as stand-ins for themselves, imbuing their performances with a fragile awkwardness, a familial tenderness. The video on display at Horton Gallery is Repetition Compulsion, which explores Freudian terrain and masculine power struggles, with Zanisnik’s father repeating the command “Gone!” while Zanisnik cowers in exaggerated fear and agitation. Mother appears amid a shower of autumn leaves, ostensibly to save the child from his father’s aggression, and yet she seems coldly distant. With agitated, disjunctive edits, the video has a manic pace. As both Freudian archetype and parody, the performance instills in the viewer both a pathos and bemusement.
Still a young artist, Zanisnik is one to keep your eye on, as in just the last couple of years he has proved himself capable of developing a highly effective visual language, a fine sense of craft and composition, and a disarming honesty and humor. Mark your calendar for Saturday, February 5th, from 4pm to 6pm when Zanisnik will perform live at the gallery.
(Images: Bryan Zanisnik: Fishers and Waiting, 2010, C-Print, Ed. 3, 40x40" / 101.6x101.6cm. Off Season, 2010, C-Print, Ed. 3, 40x24" / 101.6x60.9cm (each - triptych). 18 Years of American Dreams, 2010, C-Print, Ed. 3, 60x83" / 152.4x210.8cm. Repetition Compulsion, 2010, Digital Video, 5:10. All images courtesy of Horton Gallery, New York.)