los-angeles

Tony Oursler

Margo Leavin Gallery

First Mike Kelley, then Jim Shaw and Raymond Pettibon have each taken a turn carrying the torch of the “Pop Informel” school, and each has seen his star rise accordingly. Only Tony Oursler—the fourth member of a loose-knit crew that once collaborated on the art bands Destroy All Monsters (the original lineup of which featured Kelley, Shaw, Carey Loren, and Niagara) and the Poetics (comprising just Oursler and Kelley) and that continue to make occasional guest appearances in one another’s projects—seemed to lag behind, achieving less success than he deserved with his early videos of puppet plays and performances. These are pointedly lo-fi affairs, deploying a kiddie-show version of Brechtian Umfunktionierung in which the illusion of lifelikeness is so flimsy that it effectively trumps itself, gravitating instead toward the second-order credibility of the uncanny. Alongside the artifice,

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