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Tony Oursler "Ear-Worm", 1976/2013

Tony Oursler

Ear-Worm (1976/2013)

While a student at the California Institute of Arts in the 1970s, Tony Oursler met fellow artist and future collaborator Mike Kelley, with whom he founded the music and performance group the Poetics – once described by Kelley as “the first of the ‘Art Bands’ to emerge from CalArts”. It was a formative moment for the two artists, as they looked beyond Conceptualism to explore pop-cultural images, sound, humor, music, language, and multimedia presentation. The Poetics’ musical output was varied and ranged from proto-punk to psycho-psychedelic. The Poetics’ lineup included numerous members, such as artists John Miller and Jim Shaw.

Oursler culled the image material that he schematically layered in his edition for “Texte zur Kunst” from the Poetics notebook, a record of the first cycle of collaborative projects planned by Oursler and Kelley in the mid-1970s. These sketches formed the basis for numerous audio-visual reworkings over the years, most notably under the title “The Poetics Project: 1977–1997” at documenta X in Kassel as well as in the subsequent exhibition tour to London, Tokyo, New York, and Paris. This collaborative process generated installations, videotapes, paintings, performances, and audio recordings related to the two artists’ personal histories – including Catholic culture, confused sexuality, and the origins of noise music. Here, Oursler used a photograph from 1997 depicting Kelley posed in “Crazy Head” – the shaped projection screen used in the installation of “The Poetics Project” in Tokyo. Oursler also superimposed lyrics from the song “Red Sky”, which will be included in the Poetics’ forthcoming and final album.

Digital print with hand-coloring, 45.7 × 60.9 cm, Edition: 100 + 20 A.P., numbered and signed on the back, 290.– Euros plus shipping.