Tony Oursler

  • Undle Orbit
  • 2005, fiberglass and DVD, 84 x 107 x 45,5 cm
  • 2007, fiberglass and DVD, 71,1 x 35,6 x 71,1 cm
Biography

Tony Oursler is a native New Yorker, born in 1957. He received a B.A. in Fine Arts at the California Institute for the Arts, Valencia, CA, in 1979. His art covers a wide range of media, including video, sculpture, installation, performance and painting. He created some controversy mainly through his installations, e.g. at Documenta IX in Kassel (1992). He also made a name for himself by producing a large number of music videos.


Oursler’s great subject is the mass media. He analyses their mechanisms, lays open their seductive, deceptive, and misleading structures, thereby destroying trust and belief in them. One usually encounters his sculptural installations with distorted projections showing parts of faces with moving lips while an accompanying soundtrack plays provocative recordings: the video dolls. They strike us as strange, alien, sometimes perhaps even fiendish. The distortions can be understood as a symbol for the media’s distortion of reality, the strange recordings open yet another critical dimension, pointing to the fact that the increasingly complex world is slipping out of our hands, as we don’t really understand it anymore – if we ever did.

Tony Oursler is a native New Yorker, born in 1957. He received a B.A. in Fine Arts at the California Institute for the Arts, Valencia, CA, in 1979. His art covers a wide range of media, including video, sculpture, installation, performance and painting. He created some controversy mainly through his installations, e.g. at Documenta IX in Kassel (1992). He also made a name for himself by producing a large number of music videos.

A highly important effect is also the three-dimensionality that normally 2D, flat images gain through Oursler’s treatment. Their corporeality points at the inevitable encounter the viewer has with them in everyday life.

Sometimes his installations are comprised of more than one lone video doll. In one of his larger works, the dolls are found trapped under sofas, chairs, and mattresses, packed into crates and luggage or hanging from the ceiling.

A related series are Oursler’s fibreglass balls, onto which a single eye is projected. It moves from side to side in an irregular pattern. At first, the viewer might think that it’s he or she who’s being observed, but then, coming closer, one gradually understands that the eye is following a TV programme. This is a reflection on the act of perception, upending the situation of media consumption and symbolizing the eye by the fibreglass ball (or “eyeball”).

In other works he explores the media – mainly cinema and TV – and their influence in relation to various forms of psychic and social disorders.

Gallery Exhibitions

Stopover, 11.06.2007 - 29.09.2007, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Ein Hauch von Eden, 27.11.2010 - 31.01.2011, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Museum Exhibitions

Imponderable: The Archives of Tony Oursler, until Feb. 04, 2016, Luma/Westbau, Zurich, Swiss

Tony Oursler, Nov. 17, 2013 - Feb 23, 2014, MAC´s - Musée des Arts Contemporains, Hornu, Belgium

Little Worlds, Honolulu Museum of Art, Feb. 21, 2013 - June 23, 2013, Honlulu, Hawaii, USA

agentic iced etcetera, Feb. 16, 2013 - April 21, 2013, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine

The Influence Machine, Feb. 15, 2013 - Feb. 19, 2013, Tate Modern, London

Crossed Circuits; Norte Sul Leste Oeste, Jan. 22, 2013 - March 31, 2013, Museu de Arte Moderna, Sao Paulo

Tony Oursler - Face to Face, Feb. 25, 2012 - June 29, 2012, AROos Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark