Tony Oursler, the gallery's newest artist, debuts at Metro Pictures with a psychologically charged exhibition. Rescuing video from high-tech preoccupations, he domesticates the medium by projecting body images onto household artifacts and the blank faces of stuffed fabric figures. Mattresses, silk flowers, gauzy clouds and floral textiles upholster the gallery and become screens for Oursler's angst-ridden personalities. His hybrid characters, part craft and part electronics, merge the psychological and media arenas on which he comments.
Perched atop light stands or squashed under mattresses, certain of Oursler's crudely-sewn figures are animated by miniature video projectors casting expressive faces onto their plain heads. Accompanying audio reveals that each character is possessed of a singular and extreme emotion that he or she emits uncontrollably into the darkened room. Internal and private emotions, ranging from rage to fear, escape into the public domain, recalling our sublimated anxieties and desires. Effectively demonstrating how human and media worlds collide, Oursler appropriates strategies from the very media mechanism he questions to investigate the reciprocal relationship between human emotional states and mass culture.
For the last several years, Oursler has concerned himself with the degree to which popular media influences our psychic states. Taking his cue from psychiatric models, Oursler distills individual human emotions down to their barest essence, staging intense psychodramas. At times whimsical, antagonistic, alluring or foreboding, his work is ultimately provocative in its ability to bring our most protected fears and aggressions into focus.
Tony Oursler, a graduate of the California Institute for the Arts, teaches at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and lives in New York City. His work is included in internationally prominent public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Saatchi Collection in London. Among other venues, his work has been exhibited at Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. This past summer, Oursler had shows at the Salzburger Kunstverein in Austria and Portikus in Frankfurt.