Asha Zero depicts a world molded by the media, communicating a synthesized and accelerated society. Zero’s hyperrealistic painted collages express the pastiche of audio and visual simulations that have developed into the anxieties of the present day. His work suggests a kind of neurosis that most people seem to experience in the present Orwellian constructed world.
Zero exposes us to the media spectacle of the global village by juxtaposing many traditional modernist approaches, such as collage, gestural painting, and pop elements, with more contemporary elements and concepts, such as Neo-expressionism, graffiti, and electro-clash design. Extracts from torn tabloid icons and celebrity magazine cut-ups are pieced together to assemble ‘über-cosmetic’ and ‘pseudo-idealistic’ deformations. By sacrificially mutilating already established modernist perspectives, Zero turns plasticity into plastic living, and manages to expose the dissident of postmodernism. Zero embraces the comedy of the techno-urban environment in its entire tragic splendor, finding parallels between the angst we feel inside the city, and the awe we feel outside of it. In this way, zero creates a poisonous concept of lethargy as a cathartic cure to an over-accelerated instantaneous world of glitches and delays.
As the world becomes ever smaller with the growth of media orientated technologies and the increased speed-up of networks, proximity is often equated with promiscuity, covering the world in a blanket of globalization and westernization. This is a schizophrenic space that Zero relates to in an equally schizophrenic fashion through his use of various guises. He plays with various aliases in an attempt to negate his own identity, choosing anonymity over autonomy. Zero delivers a perspective of a downloaded reality in the midst of a smoldering consumerist society which has a special affinity to the techno-organic space of the city, where the individual merely becomes a cipher in a buzz of cellular automata. Spectacular culture has saturated the globe in a haze of electronic media that brings traditional modernist notions of identity into question. Zero’s ‘trans-politics’ filters out the capitalistic and consumerist elements that structure western existence by utilizing clippings from the very advertisements, tabloid photo’s, and television programs that propagate the supposed coherence of society.
Zero draws much of his inspiration from music videos, cult films, poster and album cover art, because they are indicative of, or rather they render an awareness of, a late capitalistic, postmodern era. Such imagery is also evident in the billboards, MTV blips, and humming fast food signs that surround us. Zero simply makes this sublime situation apparent in a funny and sometimes juvenile manner, supported by his refined sensibility and wit.
Zero is careful not to conform to a singular or autonomous individuality, but rather incorporates a number of brands into his idiom of multiple personalities and bogus corporations. Zero refers to these brands and aliases as his ‘collectives’, intent on confusing the assumed universalism and coherence of the global village. Zero does not have a preference for any specific guise, and he adopts these ‘sub-alter-ego’s’ as playthings of sorts. These characters include such names as Palinki, Broop Nook, Whatsnibble, and most importantly, the Imposter. The imposter implies deception and falsity, but it also suggests the all important poster boy; the face of the brand or corporation and the mediator of capitalistic dogma.
Zero, like many other artists today, dramatizes the fabrication of western, and westernized, society’s so called multiplicity, which has grown out of an obscure postmodern faith in pluralism. It can be said that our society is a binary singularity trying to cope with a supreme lack of difference in the world. With the lack of any Other, Zero is the only symbol that can distinguish and support the One. Zero’s self-denying pseudonyms are epitomized and controlled by two counterfeit brands called Roadvisionkilltoiletries and Mobilediscoetcetera. These brands form the corpus of his ‘collectives’ and subvert, or even invert, capitalistic processes of institutionalization. Corporations and institutions are mechanisms of representation that allocate purpose, meaning, and identity to things. Zero’s cut-up images are fragmented products of this system: a homogenized societal husk in the wake of a specific brand of modernism that has turned into the spectacle of market capitalism. Zero’s corporations are ventures that externally and conceptually compliment his painted images, and clone, even mock, the fictional basis of multi-national corporations, humanism, globalization and the like.
Various traits, both conceptually and formally, from Modernist movements such as Cubism, Dada, and Futurism can be found in Zero’s work. He openly admits to the influence of Dada poster art and often mentions the conceptual approach of Marcel Duchamp, specifically regarding his embrace of the anonymous, unpredictable and unknown factors in life. Following Duchamp, Zero’s images are ambiguous, and honest. They use capitalist, consumer orientated tricks and fibs to suggest many possible truths. Zero’s collectives are mutated electrical digital mechanical monsters that grow sporadically. They reveal a polemic of reality and simulation that entails an existence bent on instant communication and infinite consumerism. By painting his collages as realistically as he can, and re-representing already highly mediated imagery, sourced from tabloid magazines, children’s books and the like, Zero makes a serious comment about society as bricolage; a world that has lost any sense of the real.
Zero’s paintings are portraits that have been pieced together from the appropriated features of media icons and cover models that many people desire to be. His paintings are self-portraits and portraits of the viewer; they depict everyman and the overman. Such portraits make one aware of the various cultural masks that people need to wear in order to be accepted in society.
As a constructed and abstract entity, Asha Zero is a parody on consumer brands and capitalist politics. His ‘collectives’ are both the object of consumption and the subject that produces. His paintings are deliberate satirical reproductions of collages by pseudo characters that ‘exist’ in a sequenced and controlled world-wide domain.
Zero plays with contemporary societal issues, where Orwellian concepts no longer teeter on the opposition between good and evil, but tinker on the pitting of ‘evil’ against ‘evil’. Zero shows us his dreams of a sublime digitised and Xeroxed space that has developed from over-communication and an addiction to the media. In Zero’s world we are all impostors living the illusion of a man-made human-condition that is decaying from its own processes of modernisation. Asha’s ‘collectives’ attest to this universalistic paradigm of drone nations, cloned identities, and ultimately ones and zeros.