Tony Oursler blanca oria   New York, 1957.
“My mother used to bring me to all the museums round New York”.
“My great-auntie, Zita Mellon, taught me how to paint. I also studied under Karra Raffose at the Rockland Community Collage. He took me under his wings and almost saved me by sending me to Cal Arts. When I got there I thought painting was everything, I thought you could translate through painting”.
“The University made me explore other means - photography, cinema, installations, music, performance, whatever-”
“Technology fascinated me. Video seemed to suit my hyperactive personality”
“Television is a magical world, way out of reach of normal people. I loved television when I was a child: in my memories of childhood, television was something unheard of. But it's also an empty space, a cold thing... which is exactly the beauty of it, it's duality”
(Fragments of an interview of Tony Oursler and Mike Kelly)
The KM Centre in Donostia played host recently to a retrospective on Tony Oursler.

Judy's real "me"
Victims of a sexual or psychological trauma try to defend themselves from their “inner self” and in order to do so, they create characters who can combat the tortures they themselves have suffered. This is called MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder). Tony Oursler combines this pathology with the processes provoked by the mass media. Sick people change personalities the way viewers change channels. This phenomenon, genuinely American (this disorder, unrecognised in other parts of the world, is said to be caused by the collective hysteria that the media provoke in American citizens) has enabled Oursler to bring “Judy” to life by using a mixed set up of rag-dolls, bits of furniture and the most disparate collection of stuff scattered about. A remote control camera controlled from inside the set up allows the spectator to control the situation as the different characters narrate the cause of their split personality. The pain, fear, wrath and memory mark a process that derives in the creation of new personalities. Three dolls called Horror, Boss and Fuck You that represent Judy's three different personalities jump from threats to screams, and from screams to flattery. “I only experienced isolation as I flew over the room and saw how, under me, the invaders tortured the bodies of the children I had created to ensure my own survival” states a patient called Judy projected onto one of Oursler's most significant pieces of work.

Ventriloquists of themselves
“Big things explain the small things to us, the same way the personal explains the universal... A lot of my work takes place between these two scales” (Tony Oursler).
Dolls made of rags are the protagonists of the stories most unequivocally identifiable with Oursler. Their heads, featureless and colourless, as if extracted from Browning's universe of freaks, are only the screens onto which actor's faces are projected. These actors are subjected to dialogues at times cruel, at times pathetic, sometimes full of lament, sometimes critical, at times insulting, at times repetitive, at times intelligible and at others totally senseless. They are a type of ventriloquist who don't need a human being to come alive. The rays of light from a projector where hundreds of never-ending interchangeable stories lie hidden suffice. The subject is always the same: motionless, hanging on a wall, hidden at the bottom of a suitcase, holding up a chair, a boot, a mattress. Complaining, screaming or repeating a phrase over and over, they play with the viewers, they make them feel pity, fear, curiosity, but never indifference. There is only movement in the face; the rest of the body is nothing but bits of stuffed cloth that sometimes come in twos to converse, argue, fight... At times they even form groups where each one, in their immobility, creates soap-opera realities in which the rupture of habitual proportions acts as an added element. How can a sixty centimetre tall rag doll, looking at us through human eyes from a pedestal on a wall, talking to us in a human voice and that knows us as only we could, reason, complain or just simply put us in our places? Oursler analyses the behaviour of the viewer this way and proves to himself how some children are terrified of these “toys” whilst others speak to them and even seek them out for help. “Rock” (1996), “Troubler” (1997), “Escort” (1997), “Mmpi” (red) (1997), “Horrerotic” (1994)... these are some of his creatures, some of the “electric ghosts” that Oursler assures fill up his mind.

Skulls and still lives
“I hate the darkness. I love the light”. (Tony Oursler)
Transparency, the refraction of light and the possession of mythical and occult powers attract Oursler's attention to diamonds and precious gems. These are the gems that would later stare out of the sockets of a skull in “Skulls and still lives” (1998), a piece of art in which his passion for light is joined by another one of his fixations: death. Ensembles of convex and concave mirrors play with light to the point where reality is diluted by bedazzling rays which centre attention on one point or simply modify normality. Ousler portrays death in his own way by giving it a huge skull resting on a pile of books or reflecting the light in it’s interior, and, onto which a message is superimposed. This is his homage to a death that his demons also refer to. These demons, he states, constantly move with the times, technological advances, novelties, Rock `n´ Roll for a time, the birth of Internet. And along with the demons we find his angels, non existent beings he creates to ease the boredom of our everyday reality and to ensure that the sense of things doesn’t only travel in the one direction.