Veritable Echo Chamber

Urs Fischer Who’ s Afraid of Jasper Johns 2008

“Mr. Fischer had every square inch of the “Four Friends” show photographed: not only paintings, frames and their shadows, but also blank walls, windows, ceilings, views through various doorways and the gallery’s two guards. He then converted the images into trompe l’oeil wallpaper that, meticulously applied, lines the gallery with a same-size simulacrum of itself, which enables “Four Friends” to stay in place while a second show is installed on top of it… All this is a lot less obvious than it sounds. The oeil is really tromped in a veritable echo chamber of stylistic and generational clashes: real artworks “deface” real-looking copies of other works… With their play of copies and originals, Mr. Brown and Mr. Fischer might mean to imply the triumph of appropriation art over 1980s painting. But then you realize that quite a bit of the visual firepower is coming from the works in, not on, the wallpaper. On top of the exhibition’s view of art as a continuing form of argument is a visceral reminder that art history’s books are never closed.” Roberta Smith on Urs Fischer, May 16, 2008.

Urs Fischer Untitled 2011

As we become more inured to our world of big data and replication, AI and VR, it’s more apparent that reality is becoming something – else. Urs Fischer replicates the world and uploads that information into objects and images. In nearly all of his work one can feel that the past, the captured memory of an event or a moment in time flows through the present work. The pit in the middle of the gallery. The full size images of the previous exhibition wallpapering the current one. The perfect duplicate wax portrait unravels its hyperreality when it melts back into its material. The squeezed clay blob is replicated into tremendous size reproducing the traces of the artist’s fingerprints. Each manufactured piece made from programs, each replicate from the lens. Where does reality exist in such a mutable environment? What is original? What is duplicate? Does it matter?

“Ultimately, as the objects and images I encounter in process in Fischer’s studio suggest, his chief mode of work is cross-pollination and hybridity. Fischer trained in photography at the Schule für Gestaltungin Zurich, the medium with which I would least associate him. But when one remembers photography’s origins in the camera obscura, and therefore its initial relationship to architecture and space rather than just a flat planar image, this unlikely relationship in Fischer’s work begins to make more sense. A case in point are his photographic wallpaper works, highly convincing trompe l’oeil reproductions of the exhibition space itself. The very first, VeRBal ascetIcIsM(2007), was originally featured in the group show “sequence 1: Painting and sculpture in the François Pinault collection” at Palazzo Grassi, where it pictured the gallery interiors as they had appeared during the previous show, including work by titans such as Richard Serra and Cy Twombly. A year later, aBstRact slaVeRY (2008) appeared in the exhibition “Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns?” at Tony Shafrazi gallery, New York, reproducing not only the paintings by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat that had hung in the rooms only a month before but even the security guards who had stood beside them. In both exhibitions, additional works were hung on the walls, producing a palimpsest of past and present, fictive and real, two and three dimensions, image and object.” Nicholas Cullinan on Urs Fischer Parkett Magazine 2014.

One Comment

  • anon

    in retrospect probably the last great gallery exhibition seen in nyc now that a random glut of social imagery supplants the white cube experience

    completely apocalyptic in the tradition of last painting and the empty gallery

    brilliant in its inversion and displacement

    outstanding in its framing and truly excessive in the best possible manner

    i’ve seen little to nothing since this exhibition that moved me in the way it did

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