Whether viewed digitally or on paper, Mario Zoots’ collages have a similar effect: They are initially perplexing, then mesmerizing. Deeply interested in the implicit language and complexity of image, Mario challenges these inherent visual systems, and our resulting interpretation, via his surreal re-rendering of them. He acts as magician, manipulating pop and contemporary culture into something disruptive and haunting. His works bear a similar texture—or psychedelic creepiness and overall aesthetic—to his soundscapes in “Modern Witch,” a collaborative recording/performative project with Kristy Fenton and Kamran Khan.
The hallucinatory quality of Mario’s collages is a major emphases in his solo exhibition at Preteen Gallery, I JUST WANNA BE AS PRETTY AS I FEEL. Composed of images constructed from 1960s science fiction books, the images appear more yellowed and much fuzzier in real life than their exquisitely clear, digital counterparts. This is complicit with Mario’s exploration of the Internet as a simultaneous image source, image-changer and constant, movable gallery. Internet culturalism and the reappropriation of Internet-displayed artwork have become significant topics for exploration in his work, another example of the close, eerie bond between image and the psyche. I JUST WANNA BE AS PRETTY AS I FEEL’s description comes from a collaboration with Preteen curator Gerardo Contreras and serves as a reminder that Mario’s pieces, existing in their own unusual forms, are almost thoroughly born of the viewer’s experience and understanding—just as the original, pre-collaged images have become his own.
I JUST WANNA BE AS PRETTY AS I FEEL runs through September 26 at Preteen Gallery in Mexico City.