Tony Oursler’s solo show “Imponderable” at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is enjoying an extended run, remaining on view until April 16, 2017, announced the museum. The exhibition presents an alternate view of modernism by merging technological advancements with historical occult phenomena from the last two centuries.
"Imponderable" is a combination of a 90-minute film with a exhibition of "findings" culled from Tony Oursler’s extensive research (and personal collection) representing a trove of over 2,500 photographs, documents, publications and unique objects that track a social, spiritual, and intellectual history dating to the early 18th century.
The immersive feature-length film, presented in a 5-D cinematic environment, is inspired by the objects from the artist’s collection related to stage magic, spirit photography, pseudoscience, telekinesis, and other paranormal manifestations.
Tony Oursler’s Imponderable (2015–16) weaves technological advancements and occult phenomena over the last two centuries to present an alternate view of modernism. The immersive feature-length film inspired by Oursler’s own archive of ephemera relating to stage magic, spirit photography, pseudoscience, telekinesis, and other manifestations of the paranormal. Multiple screenings take place each day.
A range of sensory effects unfold during the screening (scents, vibrations and more) which is presented in a darkened “5-D” cinematic environment that makes use of a contemporary form of Pepper’s ghost: a 19th-century phantasmagoric device.
Bringing together Oursler’s ongoing interest in mysticism, psychedelia, popular culture, and media history, the work employs macabre humor and theatrical surrealism to reflect on the irrational relationship between belief systems and the authenticity of images.
The film also overlaps with the artist’s own family history. Characters of the famous kind--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Mina “Margery” Crandon--mingle with members of Oursler’s family portrayed by an eclectic ensemble of artists, musicians, and performers including Kim Gordon, Jim Fletcher, Keith Sanborn, and Constance DeJong.
The exhibition features selections from Oursler’s archive relating to the film.
Imponderable was originally commissioned and produced by the LUMA Foundation for the Parc des Ateliers, Arles, France, and LUMA Westbau, Zurich, Switzerland, 2015. It features an original soundtrack by JG Thirlwell. Scents were reated by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.
The exhibition was designed to coincide with "Tony Oursler: The Imponderable Archive" that was exhibited in 2016 at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (June June 25–October 30, 2016).
The exhibition is organized by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, and Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Assistant Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.
Tony Oursler is based in The Hamptons and New York City. Recently, his work was on view at The Parrish Art Museum as part of the biennial "Artists Choose Artists" where he served as an artist-juror.
BASIC FACTS: Tony Oursler’s solo show “Imponderable” is on view through April 25, 2017 at Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019. www.moma.org.
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