(Deatail) Tony Oursler. “IDE…”, 2015. Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein
Oursler’s ‘talking heads’ at Magasin III in Stockholm
Tony Oursler Magasin III, Stockholm September 16 - December 11, 2016
In the art of Tony Oursler (who is often called “the Picasso of video art”), the preeminent “material” used is the human face. In his numerous video artworks, projections, sculptural objects and installations, the face appears without hair and ears, removed from the rest of the body as much as possible in order to better reveal its expressions, nuances, and psychological weight. As Oursler says, the face is like a link between the body and the mind, between the physical and spiritual sides of the personality, and a dynamic reflection of all of these elements.
Tony Oursler. Caricature, 2002. Installation view from Station, Magasin III, 2002. Collection Magasin III. Photo: Anna Kleberg
Tony Oursler had a solo exhibition at Magasin III in 2002. This new exhibition (14 years later) is both a revisit of those works, of which all were produced for that occasion, as well as an extensive survey over what he did early on in his career and what he is interested in today. For example, for a while now, Oursler’s work has been focusing on the ever-increasing widespread use of data tracking and monitoring programs, especially those that deal with facial recognition. He creates his own brand of digital portraits in which we can see ourselves through the lens of technology. Oursler’s 4D film, “Imponderable” (2015-2016), tells the story of technological progress intersecting with occult phenomena over the past two centuries. The film is shown in a theater outfitted with various sensory effects, including the use of “Pepper Ghost” – an old-fashioned illusion technique used in magic shows and theatrical performances to make objects and people appear to float, pass through each other, and fade in and out. It is worth mentioning that the artist’s grandfather, Fulton Oursler, was a magician, and Tony has created a lot of his work around that family history.
Tony Oursler. The Influence Machine. Project Djurgårdsbrunn, 2002. Photo: Mattias Givell
Curators Richard Julin and Tessa Praun outline the highlights of Oursler’s oeuvre that can be seen in this exhibition, and give us an idea of the visual framework for the exhibition:
An extensive selection of Tony Oursler’s early doll works – the works from his exhibition “Station”, in 2002 – all centered around an abandoned old TV station; “Caricature” (2002), which was Oursler’s very first large-scale sculpture of a figure with projected eyes and mouth, as well as a large number of new works based on his interest in facial recognition, were specially produced for the occasion. The exhibition will also present his film “Imponderable” (2015) in a 5D-environment. During the exhibition period, we will also re-stage Oursler’s outdoor piece, “The Influence Machine”, in collaboration with Stockholm University.
The exhibition will be a journey through the history of technology as seen through Tony Oursler’s eyes, with both vintage and contemporary technological devices and numerous “talking heads”.