Oli Sorenson consistently disrupts institutional expectations of the visual artist as a producer of proprietary images. His work exposes the contradictions between limited copyright and massively reproducible media but also asks timely questions about singular authorship in an age of overabundant networked content. Under such conditions, the making of a contemporary work of art involves more distributed processes than isolated generative acts from original authors. Beyond market pressures to produce new and exclusive art objects, lies a material culture of exchange and emulation embraced by networked societies. Sorenson aims to unsettle this prevalence of art created from scratch by promoting gestures of citation and appropriation. When he copies, transforms and combines existing works by established artists, such cultural materials are re-used and recycled not in spite of their propertied ties to private estates but rather by virtue of their belonging to a specific heritage, community and/or collective memory.
With Fontana Mashup, Sorenson pursues an approach initiated with his Video Pistoletto series to transfer the gestures of established artists upon new and yet unexplored forms. Here he re-enacted Lucio Fontana’s incisions onto copies of some of the world’s most expensive masterpieces, to bypass Walter Benjamin’s trope on mechanical reproduction by commissioning hand-made duplicates from artisans in China. The ensuing oil paintings serve as receptacles for Sorenson’s creative ends. Using a utility knife to produce slashing strokes instead of brush strokes, the artist disrupts the integrity of Western canonical images, continually copied and updated by their ongoing presence online. Sorenson responds to the omnipresence of such virtual copies by transposing them onto a material surface, then partially destroys these in order to reinstate the physical properties of the original works. To this end, Sorenson is smearing the threshold between the modes of production, reproduction, restoration and destruction of images which make up the cultural baggage of our society.
Curator: Art Souterrain