Oliver Laric

Thirty-year-old Oliver Laric calls himself a “facilitator.” That’s a rather selfless designation to describe the poetry of someone who allows interactions with art to happen by surprise. Commissioned by the 2011 Frieze Art Fair, Laric roved the London exhibition last October with a video crew, capturing banal art-world moments. He shot the top of the head of a Kiki Smith sculpture with flies on it and the hermit crabs in an installation by Pierre Huyghe. Afterward, he uploaded the videos on Frieze’s stock footage Web site in hopes they’d be useful as atmosphere. Whether the clips, which are beautiful but not necessarily cheery, will find much use—an image of transparent liquid hitting a concave porcelain surface, titled Urinal, seems particularly unlikely—is beside the point.

The Austria-born artist has lived in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood for the last five years, and there his art has proliferated amidst the city’s endless space and limited market. One of Laric’s ongoing fascinations is with the idea of the original, which he’s applied to classical sculpture, particularly marbles, and their endless reproductions. He named a 2011 show in Basel “Kopienkritik” after a 19th-century school of art history in which the Roman sculptures’ copies were pronounced inferior to Greek originals. For the exhibition, Laric showed an archive of casts of famous sculptures made in colored wax, arranging the artifacts alongside video projections and painted renditions. The effect was a pantheon of heroic figures and deities with no progenitor.

His most recent project, Doritaenopsis Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), sprang out of 2009’s controversial visit by the Burmese prime minister to Singapore, during which Laric dedicated an orchid to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy opposition leader who lived under house arrest for almost two decades. For this project, the flowers were distributed under her name to the Polish public last September during the European Culture Congress in WrocÅ?aw, Poland. Laric doesn’t post labels or long explanations; he merely asks you share in the gesture.

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