Tony Oursler is a major figure in the recent history of video art. Although he is not part of the generation which saw the emergence of this, he does belong to the generation which has revived its use by freeing himself from the limits specific to television screens.
Tony Oursler’s works are not limited to video image in the true sense, but form complex devices involving sculpture, design, installation and performance. In the 1990s, his installations presented sculpture-screens in the exhibition space. Deformed faces spouting incomprehensible monologues, were projected onto dolls, objects or onto any other type of unexpected medium. This series of Talking Heads then developed into the Eyes series, in which this time the artist projected eyes onto spheres spread around the exhibition space. These eyes, in which you can see the pupils dilating, the reflections of the iris or simply the fluttering of the eyelids, sometimes seem to stare into space and other times observe the visitor. This exchange of disturbing looks between the work and its public, this synecdochical relationship where man is symbolically reduced to an eye, shows one of the central themes of Tony Oursler’s work: the individual spectator of a virtual society subjected to an exponential production of images, which blur the limits between reality and fiction.
From the outset, Tony Oursler has explored the alienating relationships between man and his cultural production. His work has therefore contained a certain number of recurring themes such as violence, sex, religion, money, family, media, etc. It generally concerns the question of man, reduced to the status of puppet, doll, in a tortured and fragmented body, in absurd, extreme and tormented situations. Tony Oursler is thus attracted to extreme, destabilising situations, which Freud wrote about in his essay entitled The Uncanny. This attraction, which is shared by a whole generation of American artists, such as Mike Kelley with whom Tony Oursler founded the Punk-Rock group The Poetics, is conveyed in Oursler’s willingness to "make a breakdown in culture aesthetic*".
After his retrospective at the Jeu de Paume in 2005, JGM. Galerie is pleased to invite Tony Oursler for a new personal exhibition in Paris. This first collaboration will be an opportunity for the visitor to discover through ten or so works the richness and diversity of the experiments carried out by the American artist over twenty years. Thus, a fragile figurine presented by video projection (Skin, 1994) rubs shoulders with a monster composed of eight eyes and a mouth (Star, 2005), while Million miles (Orbital screw), 2007, immerses us in a cosmic exploration. Lastly, this will be an opportunity to discover new works from his recent series entitled Peak. The latter are presented as microcosms where objects, materials and video images are gathered, testifying to the obsessive relations of man with the computer and the virtual world in general.
Tony Oursler was born in New York in 1957. He lives and works in New York.