Don't Look at Me
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jtucker's picture


If you know Tony Oursler is in the building, prepare yourself to have the bejesus scared out of you.

Or perhaps you are one of those more sympathetic souls who feel for the twisted cyborg-esque creatures that live in Oursler’s installations. Surely this lady, having survived the depths of Oursler’s mind and having her head squished by the weight of an armchair, deserves a few sympathy points.

As if this crude and cringe-worthy piece doesn’t perturb the senses enough, the fact that she speaks to her onlookers is almost too much to handle. The sculpture hisses phrases such as, “Get away from me, you're making me sick." and "What are you looking at? I don't have time for this!". Obviously she doesn't have time for your judgment; she has bigger issues to worry about. She clearly should have invested in Life Alert. Help, she has fallen and she can’t get the armchair off her head!

Oursler loves to play with the psychological impact his work has on an audience. In a way, we are like his guinea pigs, and our diverse reactions are exactly what he is testing for.

Could this piece be a commentary on the human tendency to assume others will come to the rescue and exonerate our individual need for intervention? A sort of Kitty Genovese inspired commentary? Or perhaps, this all could just be a testament to the fact that Oursler indulged in his fair share of drugs and alcohol back in the day (his “dark times” as he dubbed them), and some things just can’t be unseen. Either way, you know when interacting with Oursler’s work, there will never be a dull moment lacking in the potential to question the soundness of our minds.



  1. Ollman, Leah. “Art That Talks Back: The Shrink Is In”. Los Angeles Times. June 30, 1999. Accessed September 8, 2017.
  2. Reserve Channel. “Tony Oursler | Art in Progress | Reserve Channel”. Youtube video, Posted May 1, 2014.
  3. Kimmelman, Michael. “IN THE STUDIO WITH/Tony Oursler; A Sculptor Of the Air With Video”. New York Times. April 27, 2001. Accessed September 8, 2017.