Tony Oursler + Mike Kelley

Very scarce Tony Oursler + Mike Kelley exhibition catalogue / artists’ book published in conjunction with a major two-person exhibition held 1997 – 1998 in Tokyo. Includes colour installation images of the exhibition as installed at Documenta X, June 21 – September 28, 1997. “The ongoing ‘Poetics Project’ serves up a rich mix of visual and aural experiences, while inviting viewers to question the reliability of the shows as history. Artist Mike Kelley says, ‘If you don’t create your own history, someone else will.” Kelley and Tony Oursler’s the ‘Poetics Project 1977-1997’ is a retrospective work that draws from their collaborative efforts in painting, video, sculpture, drawing and music. Although the ostensible subject of this project is Kelley and Oursler’s early experiences as performers in a loose-knit musical group called the Poetics, its broader concerns are the processes by which history is constructed, and the reciprocal relationship between the fine arts and popular culture. The conflation of past and present in the ‘Poetics Project’ makes it difficult at first for the viewer to penetrate the work. Video installations and taped interviews with visual artists, rock musicians and critics are intermingled with paintings, sculptures and stacks of drawings. A precise checklist and diagram prepared by Kelley and Oursler methodically pinpoint the authorship of each work, while serving as a serf-guided tour and critical record of the project. Only with this didactic help do viewers come to realize that the ‘Poetics Project’ is almost entirely made up of works created in 1997 and 1998, though based on what Kelley and Oursler tell us is a single notebook of sketches and a collection of audio recordings–some little more than notations for never-performed works–which date from the late 1970s and early ’80s (the Poetics disbanded in 1983). Filled with irony and steeped in serf-reflexive practice, this work builds upon the radical autobiographical prose of William S. Burroughs and art works and performances by artists such as John Baldessari, Allan Kaprow and Andy Warhol. Reminiscent of Warhol’s A:A Novel, which records one day in the life of the artist in 384 pages, the ‘Poetics Project’ is an expanding template of art works which explores how the past can be reconstructed to shed light on the present.” — Diane Shamash, Art in America, October 1998

First and only edition of this unique Japanese publication from these two American artists. Cardboard covers feature decal artwork reproducing the Oursler/Kelley collaborative artwork “Poetics Country”, 1997.

* Condition: Very Good (tight, clean copy throughout with only light wear) – All care is taken to provide accurate condition details of used books, photos available on request.

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Tony Oursler + Mike Kelley - Poetics Project (1998)
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