Inside Tony Oursler’s House of ESP Cards
(Among Other Ephemera)
By Hilary Moss
June 9, 2015
“Sorry — this place is a total wreck,” says the video artist Tony Oursler of his Manhattan home and studio, which is in a constant state of precariousness: Touch one thing and three more take a tumble. “But that’s the fun of it! You’re in the midst of moviemaking magic,” he continues, and it’s true. Ahead of the international photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles, the sets and props for his upcoming immersive 3D film occupy part of the building’s first floor and a model theater fills the rest. (The basement serves as an editing room for Oursler and his team.)
While the first floor is “redecorated” depending on the task at hand, the upstairs of the edifice he purchased in the late ’90s contains many of the doodads included in the 600-page book, “Imponderable: The Archives of Tony Oursler,” to be released in Arles next month. Boxes labeled “UFO,” “Krampus/Demon/Satan/Theosophy,” “Poltergeist/ESP/Irwin Moon/Flat World/Pseudoscience/DNA/Wilhelm Reich/Robert Cornish,” and so on, pack a second-floor closet — opposite a Ping-Pong table and glass panes that overlook his Lower East Side neighborhood, which he calls a “hidden gem.” In anticipation of his Arles outing (covered in T’s annual Beauty issue), Oursler took T on a tour of his gorgeously eccentric space.
“Imponderable: The Archives of Tony Oursler” is on view from July 6 through Sep. 20, as part of Les Rencontres d’Arles 2015, commissioned and produced by the LUMA Foundation for the Parc des Ateliers, Arles, France, luma-arles.org.