Zin Taylor





21er Raum at 21er Haus, Vienna

December 4, 2014 — January 11, 2015


From October to December 2014, Zin Taylor was invited for a residency at 21er Haus in Vienna. As an artist in residence there is an opportunity to distance oneself from the everyday life, to work freely and undisturbed in an empty studio while getting to know Vienna and its artists. The Canadian-born artist took advantage of this situation and built on it. Even though the production of art outside of studio situations, known as post-studio-practice since the 1960s, is more of the opposite of Taylor’s practice. And that, although he is attributable to conceptual art, which once coined this term.

Zin Taylor usually works with sculpture, text, drawings, collage, video and audio. His basic formal vocabulary is abstract and minimal: predominantly black and white, his works are often populated by dots and stripes. These dots and stripes are of course abstract, but just as abstract as signs can be.

Linguistics uses the terms signified and signifier, meaning something denoted and the word itself describing something. There is not necessarily a relation between the form of a term and its meaning, except habituality and a societal agreement on a reference. In this sende, Taylor uses his stripes and dots as a visualization of language and its performance, transforming abstract signs into symbols for communication. So his initial question is all about how objects translate ideas and how ideas can become manifest in objects.

Zin Taylor came to Vienna with this vocabulary in his hand baggage. And as you could expect from a conceptual artist, he conceived a project addressing the site – not the exhibition space though, but the situation of an empty residency studio. He started to draw and to produce objects using clay, wire and plaster. He reacted on the outcome of the initial production and created new objects – he let himself be guided by the material, tried to let it speak and generate forms out of it, just like in classical sculpting.

This time his work is all about the language of production – the form that takes on a life of its own via countless thoughts and enters into dialog with the artist. The artist calls the forms emerging this process “units”. “Units”, like Taylor states, “describe the translation of ideas about a subject into a form about a subject. Units are what exist in physical space after the thinking and abstracting settles into shape. They are a way of handling information. The insinuation is that a thing, like a narrative, is made of many units—like how letters are used to produce words, words are used to produce a sentence, and then a statement.“

The elements developed in the studio were finally arranged in various combinations and formations and photographed. The result are no objects that are ideas, but a narration revolving around the formation and entanglement of streams of thought – a photo series about the production of things like they are thought, not as they seem. As permanently negotiable subjects they are the protagonists of Zin Taylor’s tale about the language of form, and in this case a metanarration about the language of form an artist has to struggle with during his residency. 


Zin Taylor was born in Calgary, Canada, in 1978 and currently lives and works in Brussels. Taylor has presented solo exhibitions throughout Europe and North America. Writing by Zin Taylor, and his artist books, have been published by Sternberg Press (Berlin), Bywater Bros. Editions (Port Colborne), Mousse Publishing (Milan), Karma (New York), and Artforum (New York).


Exhibition catalogue:
21er Raum 2012 – 2016
Edited by Agnes Husslein-Arco and Severin Dünser
Including texts by Severin Dünser, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Paul Feigelfeld, Agnes Husslein-Arco, Lili Reynaud-Dewar and Luisa Ziaja on exhibitions by Anna-Sophie Berger, Andy Boot, Vittorio Brodmann, Andy Coolquitt, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Iman Issa, Barbara Kapusta, Susanne Kriemann, Adriana Lara, Till Megerle, Adrien Missika, Noële Ody, Sarah Ortmeyer, Mathias Pöschl, Rosa Rendl, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Anja Ronacher, Constanze Schweiger, Zin Taylor, Philipp Timischl, Rita Vitorelli and Salvatore Viviano
Graphic design by Atelier Liska Wesle, Vienna/Berlin
Softcover, 21 × 29,7 cm, 272 pages, numerous illustrations in color
Belvedere, Vienna, 2016
ISBN 978-3-903114-18-0