Introjection: Tony Oursler mid-career survey, 1976-1999
Apr. 17 - Oct. 24, 1999
This spring, WCMA galleries will be inhabited by blinking eyes, chattering dummies, and talking lights supplied by New York-based video artist Tony Oursler in the exhibition "Introjection: Tony Oursler mid-career survey, 1976-1999," which opens Saturday, April 17 and continues through October 24, 1999. Technological wonder is fused with cultural commentary in Oursler's engaging and at times disturbing art.
The exhibition will examine more than 20 years of Oursler's pioneering work in video projection, an inventive synthesis of sculpture, video, and performance art. It will highlight recurring themes in Oursler's work such as environmental and biological pollution, modern-day neurosis and psychosis, the effects of television, and psychological maladies accompanying the modern person's feelings of disconnection and loss of control. Co-curator, Deborah Rothschild notes, "Although Oursler's work is often humorous, his concerns are serious. For example, the word from the exhibition title, 'introjection' is a psychological term for the unconscious borrowing into one personality of another person's traits or characteristics. One of Oursler's abiding themes is media introjection, or the ways in which television invades and colonizes much of our thinking."
Consisting of 26 works, the exhibition will include early installations from the 1980s such as Son of Oil, L7-L5, and Diamond, the Eight Lights, which are being re-installed by the artist especially for this survey. Combining video performance with disparate elements such as wood constructions, painted backdrops, and cardboard props, these installations exemplify Ourslers continuing experimentation with televised media. Video images in these installations are often viewed in reflections on mirror or glass, rather than on the traditional monitor.
Also on view will be two ambitious installations from the 1990s. The Watching (1992), is a complex work that was originally installed over five floors at the international art exhibition Documenta IX in 1992. Shortly after its creation, one critic wrote, "Will we ever see Tony Ourslers The Watching again in its entirety?" WCMA has the unique opportunity to reinstall this winding, multi-level work in the museum's atrium. Judy (1994) traces the multiple personalities of a fictitious character and features Ourslers frequent collaborator Tracy Leipold.
The exhibition will include many of Oursler's single-channel videos beginning with his earliest work, Joe, Joes Transsexual Brother and Joes Woman from 1976 through his recent Off from 1998. This video selection will include collaborations with Joe Gibbons, Sonic Youth, Mike Kelley and David Bowie. Also on view will be a selection of drawings, paintings and props from all phases of the artists career. From finished watercolor and acrylic works on paper to crudely rendered cardboard objects, these objects often found their way into the background of many of the artist's videos and offer a glimpse of the humor and spontaneous creativity that marks the genesis of Ourslers larger works.
Visitors will be invited to investigate the many worlds of Ourslers 1995 CD-ROM, Fantastic Prayers, a collaboration with writer Constance DeJong and musician Stephen Vitiello, commissioned by Dia Center for the Arts. Fantastic Prayers will continually run on a computer in the museum. The artists interest in new media will further be explored in a new work at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), made in collaboration with MASS MoCA and the computer animation firm, Kleiser-Walczak Construction Company, both of North Adams, Mass. The piece will incorporate up-to-the-minute animation technology projected onto an Ourslerian combination of everyday objects and abstract shapes.
"Introjection: Tony Oursler mid-career survey, 1976-1999" will be on view at WCMA from April 17-October 24, 1999 with new work at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. debuting May 30 and continuing through October 24, 1999. The exhibition will then travel to the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas during winter 1999-2000, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California during spring-early summer 2000, and the Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa during fall-winter 2000-2001.
The exhibition has been organized by WCMA Curator of Exhibitions, Deborah Rothschild and Director, Linda Shearer in collaboration with Tony Oursler, with assistance from WCMA Curatorial Assistant, Ian Berry. The MASS MoCA installation has been overseen by MASS MoCA Director, Joseph Thompson and Associate Curator, Laura Heon.