Metro Pictures will exhibit "The Poetics Project: 1977 - 1997," a collaboration between Tony Oursler and Mike Kelley originally presented at the tenth Documenta in Kassel, Germany in the summer of 1997. This multi-media installation/research project incorporates painted panels, projected video, sculpture, music and drawings. The installation combines these elements into a dense maze-like structure which invites the viewer to wander, look and listen.
The work is an examination of the construction of history. It takes as its starting point the artist's personal interest in the crossover of fine art strategies into popular culture and music during the period of the mid-70s to the mid-80s. This was a time when many artists, inspired by Conceptualism, expanded their aesthetic practice to experiment with performance, video, music, and other "non-traditional" forms in an attempt to broaden their audience and move outside of the traditional art world.
The Poetics were a collaborative group that was formed by a number of young artists who met as students at Cal Arts in the 70s. Their experiments were largely performative, and included dance pieces, comedy acts, and sound and music works. Their project culminated in the formation of a loose-knit musical group, disbanded in 1983.
In 1996, Kelley and Oursler decided to release a document of their audio works from this period. This resulted in a three CD box set titled "The Poetics: Remixes of Recordings from 1977 to 1983."
This archival process led to a rekindling of their interest in their early collaborative visual works. These works, planned but never executed, became the subject matter for new works. A seven channel video installation entitled "The Poetics" was produced and exhibited in 1997 at MACBA in Barcelona. This work addressed history as fiction, utilizing the Poetics themselves as subject matter, by mixing actual documentary footage with fictional material.
For Documenta X, the artists were invited to expand upon this collaboration. The installation includes actual documentary interviews with various artist/musicians, crossover figures, and critics. These are presented within a fanciful architecture composed of autonomous artworks, seven of which are collaborative, four are by Oursler, and four by Kelley.
These artworks purposely transgress "traditional" media distinctions in the spirit of the "Post Studio" dialogue in which the artists were schooled. For example, painting, the great conceptual taboo, is treated as room divider, projection screen and super-graphic. Highlights of the installation include a recreation of the "Pole Dance," a performance work from 1978, which has been choreographed anew by Anita Pace. A video document of this thirty minute dance work is incorporated into the piece entitled "Composition," which is an enlarged facsimile of the original Poetics work book. The "Crazy Head" pairs an early video by Oursler with documentary footage of locations inspirational to the Poetics, including the San Fernando Valley swap meet, where the artists went to procure performance props, musical instruments, and second-hand objects for use as art materials. Intercut with this footage are sequences with Hollywood actor Bill Wintersole, who performs texts written by Kelley referencing 70s' aesthetic issues. The piece "Conceptual (Trip)" incorporates reenactment rock videos, produced by Oursler, which features performer Robert Appleton.
Thursday 28 May 6-8 PM Metro Pictures, 519 W 24th St, NYC 10011
For further information and photographs please contact Jeff Gauntt.