press release

Oscar Tuazon is one of the most interesting, captivating and radical artists of his generation. His art work is characterized by the production of sculptures made of a variety of both natural and industrial materials.

Born in 1975 in Seattle, the land of grunge music, Oscar Tuazon grew up in the Tacoma suburb, which he left to study art at the Cooper Union in New York. He subsequently attended the Whitney Independent Study Program, and worked under Vito Acconci at Acconci Studio.

At the very first meeting with this artist, we are overwhelmed by a multitude of questions, beginning with the origin of his family name – deductible thanks to the name used by his brother, Eli Hansen, with whom he has always collaborated – and the tattoos that lead us to fancy that he descends from the Incas or else some historical family that fought against colonialism. Even before experiencing his projects directly, one perceives an ingenious complexity applied to social work of a strong political calling.

Oscar Tuazon moved to Paris, where in 2007 he set up one of the most dynamic collective projects in the city - Castillo/Coralles - comprised of artists, curators, writers and critics such as Thomas Boutoux, François Piron, Benjamin Thorel and Boris Gobille.

Oscar Tuazon's work is characterized by his attention to everything that society throws away. Debris and recycled remains become the structure of his sculptures, where beams and planks of wood found in the street or on building sites, assembled with concrete, iron or steel, become the protagonists of his projects, infused with energy and tension that suggest deep meanings.

Bend it till it breaks – the exhibit presented by Oscar Tuazon on the invitation of Chiara Parisi, director of the Centre international d'art et du paysage at Vassivière Island – opens at 5 pm on 14 November 2009 and remains open until 7 February 2010.

Following the Art center of Vassivière, Oscar Tuazon will move to the Kunstahalle at Bern from 12 February to 28 March 2010, then to the Parc Saint Léger – Contemporary Art Center from 20 March to 6 June 2010. In these three very different places the artist will continue his new project as work in progress that will need to change shape to adapt to each location, a process of experimentation expected to last almost a whole year.

The exhibit Bend it till it breaks, which the artist himself translates as "try anything completely unknown", is presented as an extreme experience for a place as unique as the Millevaches plateau where the Art Center of Vassivière was opened in the 90s, a land that attracted and still attracts leading representatives of culture and philosophy.

On Vassivière Island, Oscar Tuazon creates structures that stand in powerful opposition to Aldo Rossi's architecture, where the spectator feels faint before such realism. Even if his work is often analyzed from the viewpoint of utopian architecture, his practice is inspired in a notion of resistance to matter: how a structure can be changed, altered and denied by using common forms and materials.

Bend it till it breaks attests to the artist's attitude toward creating, his desire to always measure things, to experiment actions whose outcome is unpredictable, to struggle - like a warrior - with materials, vegetal and mineral elements, to continue confronting nature, architecture, and the human beings who inhabit and cross wherever his radical interventions take place.

Likewise, in his intervention at the Centre international d'art et du paysage, Oscar Tuazon pursues his inestimable longing for freedom, exploring alternative means of building that use simple recycled materials often characteristic of the D.I.Y. (Do it yourself) movement of the early 50s that extolled the construction of autonomous and independent buildings by developing a truly individual way of living. The need to create, to be independent in the face of industry and the large economic corporations, to rediscover fast-outdated know-how, this leads the artist to look for alternative solutions to enable him to undertake as many things as possible by himself, in clear opposition to the practice of artists and architects who keep for themselves only what concerns conceptualization and ask others to fill in the executive portion of their projects.

For Oscar Tuazon, the experience of creation first of all passes through architecture, which becomes a means to live the exhibit space. His works engage in a system of signs that serve to dialogue with his friends, who are invited to carry out performances or installations using his creations. His artistic practice is first and foremost a philosophy of existence, life thought out as a social and political idea primarily concerned with durable economy, in order to obtain what he calls "immaterial architecture": a life style that manufactures the space around it.

In defining his working methods, it was important for Oscar Tuazon to discover and know artists like Ad Reinhardt and Lutz Bacher, figures who belong to the milieu of poetry and music like Eileen Myles, Cedar Sigo and Barbara Rose, and intellectuals such as David Lewis, Dennis Cooper and Karl Holmqvist.

There is something utopian and unrealizable about the idea of an architectural exhibit inside a building erected by Aldo Rossi, a contingent and dependent structure that occupies the interior of another, inhabits and invades it like a parasite. A redundant operation that ends up revealing the absurd nature of the function of the new structure. At Vassivière, Oscar Tuazon puts in play unpredictable and self-destructive forces that operate in the intensely characterized space of the Art center created by the Italian architect.

The nave, inspired by the majestic spatiality of Late Ancient Roman architecture (as in the Basilica of Maxence in the Roman Forum) is completely occupied by a structure made of a mixture of various building materials. Oscar Tuazon generates an installation of monumental dimensions composed of a concrete slab resting on a structure of wood and steel that stand balanced thanks to the forces mutually annulling one another. The ensemble lends life to the skeleton of a habitat comprised of rooms and stories.

Tension is a constant element in the artist's work, in this case evidenced by the conflicting forces that issue from the structure of the Art center. The tension of the work presented in the nave derives from its duality, the idea of a flowing-out that is suggested but fortuitously and provisionally stopped.

For the artist, repeating the use of materials corresponds to the repetitive use of the notes of a musical score that the artist tries endlessly to compose.

In the studio, using a substructure on the level of the Island terrain, a tree trunk is imprisoned in a wooden element and in another made of steel. Presented for the first time in the public art manifestation Evento at Bordeaux, this monument, envisaged as a social proposition for the future, transforms into a dead tree, a sculpture oppressed by a working space.

Moving on to the study room and the little theater, a broad spectrum of materials - wood, steel, concrete and lights, all linked together with geometric forms - allows Oscar Tuazon to explore the tensions that can be created by juxtaposing and assembling them. The elementary-shaped work are partly generated by the intrinsic quality of the industrial materials that make them up, and function as objects that dispense with any device to present them. These works have no need of walls or light, they are – in the words of the artist – "only things. They can be left outside, all alone. They don't even need to be watched. They don't need anybody, they can function quite well all alone, useless and inexplicable".

Always in search of a direct rapport, something immediate but with no obligations attached, Oscar Tuazon wants to start up a conversation with the visitor through a common language that they come to find together.

The artist puts all possible combinations in play, from the simplest to the most complex. Each work undertaken for the Art center exists as a singular element of an ensemble of variations. Each one of his sculptures constitutes entities that must be seen in relation to the others, and the fact that joins them conceptually together redefines our experience of sculpture. From this point of view, Oscar Tuazon is heir to the "minimalist" practice of Sol LeWitt, for whom the conceptual and immaterial phase of the work should imply a confrontation with the work once finished and materialized.

After keeping the spectator under pressure through the tension of the forces in the closed and architecturally defined spaces of the Art center, Oscar Tuazon next faces the open, natural space of the Vassivière forest to continue the research project he has been engaged in for about four years, a work centered on landscape that privileges process, the creative gesture, the conceptual aspect rather than the finished object.

In the sculpture wood, two elements are placed in confrontation with one another, one vegetal, the other mineral. An oak tree and a slab of Carrara marble seem to confront one another in tension dictated by gravity and the power of the elements themselves. If the tree in the studio, in order to be visible, has to look for space in spite of the obstacles, here the oak must accept to be crushed or else must find the strength to cast off the heavy marble stone, which could end up blocked and hanging among the branches of the tree. The opposition between the mineral element, the marble that traditionally recalls commemorative statuary and funeral art, and the vegetal element, the tree - sign of vitality and strength - underlines the capacity of plants to adapt to situations in order not to succumb. This becomes the paradigm of an existential condition, where the evolution of forces is always difficult to calculate and often remains in the field of experimentation - the future of experiences that is always manifested in total uncertainty.

Catalogue On the occasion of the three exhibits conceived by Oscar Tuazon, Editions Paraguay Press, (Paris) will publish a book on the artist, sponsored by the Centre international d'art et du paysage of Vassivière island with the collaboration of the Kunsthalle of Bern and the Parc Saint Léger – Contemporary art center of Pougues-les-eaux.

only in german

Oscar Tuazon
Bend it till it breaks
Kurator: Chiara Parisi