"The Twentieth-Century Way," Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre, by James Scarborough
“Planet Topspin: Alexander Iskin at Track 16 Gallery, by James Scarborough

A Conversation with Alexander Iskin on the Occasion of his Exhibition “Planet Topspin” at Track 16 Gallery, by James Scarborough


Alexander Iskin (review here) was born 1990 in Moscow. He lives and works in Berlin.

His solo shows include:

  • The Future is Neanderthal (2017) at DSC Gallery, Prague, CZ
  • Apple Sauce in Paradise (2016) and Reality Express, (2015) at SEXAUER, Berlin

His group shows include

  • Salon der Gegenwart (2017) in Hamburg

Below please find an interview with Mr. Iskin on the occasion of his exhibition “ALEXANDER ISKIN: PLANET TOPSPIN” at Track 16 Gallery. This show marks his first solo U.S. exhibition.


JS: What was your first exposure to the work of Gilles Deleuze? Why did it resonate with you? How does it inform your painting and performance work?

AI: A wise man told me to read Anti-Oedipus when I was a teenager. Everything I understood from it was that reality and desire build a spicy cocktail. Meanwhile I was obsessed with the transformational, multidimensional, schizophrenic, archaic paintings of Francis Bacon. We had an affair. This is how it felt to me. I called him and asked him about his opinion. He put me on hold though. After I read Anti-Oedipus the wise man told me to read Logic of Sensation in order to continue the process. I got over it, the wise man died, and I was losing my mind: experimenting, losing control in painting for about a year.

It was a time of running into different walls, just being curious about everything that was happening in the world. Not filtering anything. I hung out in the Internet because I wanted to become an Internet by myself. I understood that we are living in different dimensions. Just imagine how many photos, videos, and life relevant information are being sent without us even having a feeling about it. I am fascinated by information, It’s all over and it creates desire, like little atoms in another form. Very seductive because it’s invisible and doesn’t hurt anybody on the first sight.

After becoming an Internet by myself I didn’t want to paint the cliché anymore. I got bored of all the people posing around, the animals, and the vacations which are put in social media. It felt so inflationary. I needed more surprises, so I started using my new experimental experiences and tried to put them into the painting process. I wanted to create a flexible language not based on any specific dimension but still playing with them. After working for a while on paintings and not considering any kind of specific content, you feel like a doll. So my performances are describing my feelings as a doll in this planet.

JS: How do you define representational clichés? Why are they important now?

AI: Representational Clichés are facts. The most interesting thing about facts right now is that nobody cares about it anymore. People care about the speed of new things happening. Marshall McLuhan said that a new technology works like a self-amputation. Technology is the extension of the human body and it makes skills useless like orientation as long as we have Google Maps, or long term memory since we have Wikipedia. So getting back to the question. The importance in representational clichés is based on its changes on the human brain through Internet. It all became a total chaos.

JS: Your work inhabits a space you call interreality, which you define as the world between digital and physical existence. What are its properties, its characteristics, and its potential for art?

AI: Interreality is fighting against self-amputation. I, as a member, am fighting for the artist inside of everybody, in the name of Interreality. If all people become a member of the Interreality movement, we would get great skills back which we lost during this whole tech-drug period. The path is rough because the Tech Lobby is powerful and its influence on our minds is already too strong but together we can achieve anything! Interreality believes in the creativity inside of everybody! We are not consuming machines. We can make the world a place of inspiration again!

JS: You consume large amounts of information before you begin to paint and that this results in subconscious images. First, what kinds of digital information? Second, because you seek subconscious images, doesn’t this make your process more Surrealist than anything else?

AI: There are definitely comparable moments in Surrealism and Interrealism but first of all, it’s a different time. Now we are living already in the Interreality, there is no need of inventing something from the subconscious. It’s already there, just look around, there is invisible information all over. And it’s so fast we can not even see. Movements all over. So confusing. Getting dizzy.

JS: Is your work meant to be a critique of our society? If yes, how so? What, then, does it critique?

AI: Painting is already a critique by itself. And reading books, just being active and staying in one topic for a long time, trying to get deep, diving into it, without caring to much about people’s opinion. This is so outsider already. No, I don’t want to criticize too much. I just want the world to be more delicate, without all this stupid market made up consumption machines. I want the sharp-minded people back: the missing talents and exciting characters. Where are the Aretha Franklins? The Robin Williamses of our time?

Who are these the new influencers, having ten thousands likes on Instagram? Too sad. Everybody should create her or his own physical Interreality. Wouldn’t it be fun to have talented neighbors all over?

JS: In a recent performance at Berlin’s Sexauer Gallery, you sledgehammer a Mac and an iPhone while you punningly eat an apple. It’s meant to be a retreat - a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek retreat - from social media. Why the retreat?

AI: Social Media is an evil and its idea of connecting people has failed. It should be called Bubble Creator. Your digital existence is flying around but can explode anytime. So you are hiding somewhere and only talk to like-minded friends. No tension, no discussion. Hey, you are cute, yeah, you too, yeah, yuhuu. Then bubble groups are fighting against bubble groups because their reality is more right than the other one. It’s a nasty world in the web. There were some teenagers visiting my art show. I wanted to show them that it’s not a big move to get back into the physical world. Many people didn’t understand that though and put the performances on their Instagram accounts.

JS: Why this fascination with Apple technology? Or is it technology in general and Apple has the biggest target on its back?

AI: There is the story about one of the founders of the computer, named Alan Turing who committed suicide by eating a poisoned apple. And the Macintosh Apple tree which is among the most popular varieties in the world. And there is the bible story. Apple is the embodiment of seduction to me with all its pros and cons. They still seduce me every time. Apple is my dangerous muse who is probably gonna kill me one day. It’s a hate fuck.

JS: Given your desire to limit the influence of clichés hidden within representation, why the need for physical motion around whatever piece you’re working on?

AI: The physical motion gives me the opportunity to create a similar balance of associations from each side. It is a social imagery because people associate different things and people can get into a conversation about it. It also has the performative aspect of moving and being physically active while working on that which I find very important for my own body and brain.

JS: Where did you come up with idea that allows the viewer to rotate the painting between four different views?

AI: I read the book “The Overview Effect” by Frank White. It’s about astronauts who get into the space for the first time. It’s a life changing experience. Checking out the planet as a vulnerable little ball flying around in the infinity of the universe. To see its rotation, its changes every day. No borders and us making stupid things, taking ourselves way too serious. So I wanted to paint the earth, how I feel it. I rotated the painting in order to be part of my planets rotation. I wanted to live through the randomness of existence by losing every upcoming cliché by turning the painting to another perspective. So as soon as all my worlds started to play with each other, I was happy because I felt it’s so peaceful and exciting at the same time.

Alexander Iskin


 4 Leiber des Rudolf Steiner, 2018, Oil on canvas, 71 x 55 inches


Pinky’s Brain, 2018, Oil on canvas 59 x 79 inches


Galexi 1, 2018 Oil on canvas 59 x 59 inches