Through sculpture and video, Oliver Laric explores the consumption and production of images in the age of the internet. Modifying pre-existing photographs, animations and sculptures to question authorship and originality, Laric presents that which we might consider to be unique as disturbingly ordinary, underlining the uncertainties of the internet age.
Laric's earliest artwork exists only on the internet in the form of a curated blog called VVORK, which he started in 2006 with fellow University of Applied Arts Vienna alumni Aleksandra Domanović, Christoph Priglinger and Georg Schnitzer. Running actively until 2012, VVORK was a site where Laric and his peers posted images of their artworks. At its peak, the website had over 20,000 daily visitors and sparked heated debates over whether an artwork could be properly experienced without seeing it in the flesh, a topic that remains important and controversial.
For his work Touch My Body: Green Screen Version (2008), which also exists online, Laric sent the music video for Mariah Carey's song by the same name to a company in India and asked them to replace the video's background with a green screen. Laric encouraged internet users to place new content over the green screen, putting the singer in front of backgrounds such as a fried chicken commercial and gory zombie scenes from the 2004 film Sean of the Dead. This project incited the realisation that anything can be sexualised; no material is sacred if it exists on the web.
Further confronting the mutability of images online, and commenting on the media's ability (or lack thereof) to portray the truth, Laric created the video series 'Versions' (2009-2012). In the videos, images of pop culture figures such as NBA basketball stars and basketball players from Japanese manga are juxtaposed to show uncanny similarities. Laric constantly reworked his videos, making a meta-argument that even his own artwork could not be defined as the images it contains are malleable and continuously in flux. At one point, Versions reveals how a photo that was used to illustrate Iran's missile tests in 2008—which appeared in major American newspapers—was digitally manipulated. The image is followed by other fabricated snapshots of the missiles that parody the blurring of reality and fiction in mass media.
Expanding beyond the internet as a mode of distribution, Laric has entered the more tangible world of contemporary art by creating sculptures. Usually 3D scans of historical sculptures, Laric makes them freely available to the public through his website www.threedscans.com, allowing anyone with a knowledge of 3D modelling to modify his works. The Hunter and His Dog, for example, is Laric's sculpture based on John Gibson's 1838 version and was printed with multi-coloured resin for a 2015 exhibition at Tanya Leighton in Berlin. The work has the appearance of an anatomical model, but is also reminiscent of a sort of techno-bot, dovetailing the past with the present.
In 2018, Laric held his first solo exhibition in New York at Metro Pictures Gallery, titled Year of the Dog, which comprised animations and three sculptures. The sculptures, all entitled Hundemensch, were created from the same mould but finished with different colour resins. Unlike his previous sculptural works, the artist was not inspired by a pre-existing sculpture for the Hundemensch works. Instead, Laric cited mythical creatures such as the Hundemensch—the German term for the dog-headed man that appears as architectural ornaments in Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals—as his source of inspiration.
Recent solo shows include exhibitions at the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri (2019); S.M.A.K, the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art Ghent, Belgium (2018); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2018); Metro Pictures Gallery, New York (2018); and Tanya Leighton, Berlin (2018). Other important shows include Photoplastik (2016) at Secession, Vienna; Oliver Laric: Versions at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts (2013); and Triennial: Surround Audience at New York's New Museum in 2015.
Laric lives and works in Berlin.
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I am interested in moving towards uncertainty. My work offers attempts to reinscribe or open up the material I'm looking at and make it less categorical. I feel more comfortable with the idea of objectivity—or even authenticity—when it's not bound to a single reality or single narrative.