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CONVERSATIONS

Nothing Is Still: Oliver Laric

Oliver Laric interviewed by Chiara Moioli

 

“Time is a social institution and not a physical reality.”
—Alan Wilson Watts1

 

In Oliver Laric’s works, nothing is still, indeed:2 for the viewer approaching his practice, the feeling is that of stepping into a known river only to acknowledge that “different and again different waters flow,” to echo Heraclitus—as cited by Plato—as quoted by Laric himself.3

Coexistence of multiple realities, openness of form, indiscriminate distinction between notions of original and copy, IRL and AFK, an extensive surveying of authorship: all of these shape Laric’s infinite universe, one made of mirrors facing each other in an endless loop of reverberations. His cosmos can be described as the reflection of—and on—a relatively new condition in the history of culture, where everything is effortlessly reachable and instantaneously reproducible, everything can be hybridized with everything else, anything is free and unfinished, its potential never entirely fulfilled; a situation that frames the Foucauldian prophecy of “What matter who is speaking?,”4 ultimately embedding the status of a generation that grew up on the internet,5 and with the internet.6

In this conversation, Oliver Laric discusses Jahr des Hundes (Year of the Dog), currently on view at Kunstverein Braunschweig–Villa Sauber. The show presents Betweenness (2018), a video that retraces and reshape the previous works Untitled (2014–15, also displayed), 2000 Cliparts (2010)7 and 787 Cliparts (Laric’s seminal video from 2006),8 investigating the concept of fluid transformation within images and forms; Hundemensch (2018), a deliberate sculptural translation of Jean Carriès’s Frog-Man (circa 1890s), expanding on a methodological practice the artist is very accustomed to;9 and a new five-part series of printed renderings dealing with the idea of versioning something that could potentially be (and, ideally, is) concurrently limitless. 

 

CHIARA MOIOLI: Let’s start with the show’s title, Jahr des Hundes (Year of the Dog), which marks the last year according to the Chinese calendar (February 16, 2018–February 4, 2019). Dogs are a recurrent theme in your work, especially in your latest sculptural series, Hundemensch (2018). Where does this interest in the contamination between animals, humans, and objects originate?

OLIVER LARIC: I don’t have a clear answer to this. I don’t think it has been an interest in animals but an interest in the connectivity of human and nonhuman animals. I’ve been asked if I identify as “furry,” which I could neither deny nor agree to. My fascination is probably with hybridizing moments that result from these encounters.

CM: Hundemensch (2018) is a deliberate translation of Jean Carriès’s Frog-Man of the 1890s. In previous sculptural works, you “limited” your artistic act to scanning and reproducing in toto the chosen subjects, drawn from specific art historical examples, playing with the reconfiguration of materials but not altering their genre. In this new series, you have interpreted a preexisting subject, making a new representation—a fresh version, if you will. Can you talk about the evolution of your working method?

OL: In many of the works I’ve made over the last years, I did utilize building blocks from others, and quite enjoyed that liberty of a vast library of source material. But there is also a point where my comfort becomes a crutch, so perhaps it’s a good point to become more vulnerable. When working with the works of others, I can always point a finger and divert some responsibility. With these more recent works, I feel that there is more to be ashamed about.

CM: In this context, can you expand on the new five-part series of printed renderings (Intestines; Ginseng; Polypore; Spider Crab; Untitled [all 2018]), bordering sculpture and photography?

OL: These are a series of sculptures that, at this point, only exist as renderings. They begin as drawings or photographs that get converted into 3D models, working with different 3D modelers. They are then rendered and put into composition with each other. There is something satisfying about the production of a 3D model that relies on the subjectivity of a rendering process to exist. And I enjoy not having to think about large crates and storage spaces as much.

CM: I’m interested in your collaboration with Ville Haimala of Amnesia Scanner10 in the making of the soundtrack of Betweenness (2018). Can you share some insights into this collaboration?

OL: Ville had previously helped me with the instrumentation of an existing composition, and I wanted to work with him on a soundtrack from scratch. My input was a playlist of songs in a minor key from horror soundtracks, and he responded by writing several compositions, one of which became the soundtrack. I adapted my animations around his song, and then he adapted the song around the animations.

CM: You are best known for having investigated the theme of the artwork’s paternity by opening the work to public the interaction with the public of the network (by co-founding VVORK [2006], by releasing templates for the users to play with, as with Touch My Body (Green Screen Version) [2008],11 or with the project Lincoln 3D Scans [2012-ongoing], to quote a few), and for having written video essays centered on the theme of image reproduction through the analysis of the history of sculpture and film animation (Versions, 2009 / 2010 / 2012).12 To talk about “appropriation” when referring to your practice is redundant, if not brutal, in an era in whichof the dispersion of images and, contentcontents and meanings, as well as the erosion of the notion of individual authorship are preponderant. Could you open up about this ethos, how it shaped your mentality, and about your status as an artist today?

OL: This voluntary and involuntary collaboration with others is regular, in particular through the Lincoln 3D Scans website. It happens every other day that these scans appear somewhere. There are limited ways for me to try and trace the activity—as, for example, searching specific Instagram hashtags—but more rewarding are the unexpected encounters. I think part of the joy is having a component to my work that I have very little influence over.

 

 

[1] A. W. Watts, Psychotherapy East and West (1961; New York: Vintage Books USA, 1975). Given Laric’s inborn passion for quoting, remixing phrases and lyrics, working like a DJ, and thinking in Chinese boxes, I’m adding a further layer of meaning to this process by acknowledging that Watts’s line is sampled in DJ Koze’s track “Music on my Teeth” (feat. José González), from Knock Knock (Berlin: Pampa Records, 2018).
[2] Leon Vynehall, Nothing Is Still (London: Ninja Tune, 2018).
[3] Oliver Laric, Versions, 2012. See http://oliverlaric.com/versions2012.htm.
[4] Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?,” lecture at the Collège de France, February 22, 1969. See https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/pluginfile.php/624849/mod_resource/content/1/a840_1_michel_foucault.pdf.
[5] Oliver Laric—along with Aleksandra Domanović, Christoph Priglinger, and Georg Schnitzer—was the cofounder of VVORK (2006–12), an influential artist-run group blog of the Surfing club era. Frequently, the blog featured organic strings of posts cataloging many different artworks sharing the same look or idea, and it was utilized for a new kind of visual group conversation about contemporary art at large—one that depicted artistic production as a networked process having its potential in iteration, thus expressing the ethos of p2p sharing culture, while also anticipating many of the subjects characterizing the “Post Internet” art to come. See http://rhizome.org/editorial/2016/mar/30/catalog-of-internet-artist-clubs/; http://rhizome.org/editorial/2015/feb/09/archiving-vvork/.
[6] Piotr Czerski, “We, The Web Kids,” 2012. See https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/we-the-web-kids/253382/.
[7] Oliver Laric, 2000 Cliparts, 2010. See http://oliverlaric.com/2000cliparts.htm.
[8] Oliver  Laric, 787 Cliparts, 2006. See http://oliverlaric.com/787cliparts.htm.
[9] See, for instance, Lincoln 3D Scans (2012–ongoing) and Laric’s ensuing sculptural work: https://www.lincoln3dscans.co.uk.
[10] See https://www.amnesiascanner.net.
[11] Oliver Laric, Touch My Body (Green Screen Version), 2008. See http://oliverlaric.com/touchmybody.htm.
[12] Oliver Laric, Versions, 2009 / 2010 / 2012. See http://oliverlaric.com/versions.htm; http://oliverlaric.com/vvversions.htm; http://oliverlaric.com/versions2012.htm.

 

Oliver Laric was born in 1981 in Innsbruck, Austria, and lives and works in Berlin. His one-person exhibition Jahr Des Hundes is currently on view at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany. He will have upcoming one-person exhibitions at the Saint Louis Art Museum and S.M.A.K., Ghent. He has had additional one-person exhibitions at Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin; Secession, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; Austrian Cultural Forum, London; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was included in the 2015 New Museum Triennial, 2016 Liverpool Biennial, 2018 São Paulo Biennial, and the 2018 Guangzhou Triennial. He has also participated in group exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery, London; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Kunstverein München; and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams. 

 

 

at Kunstverein Braunschweig – Villa Salve Hospes, Braunschweig
until 17 February 2019

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