The Paris-based American Oscar Tuazon’s current exhibition in Zurich continues his exploration of DIY architecture, which has been a constant interest throughout his practice. Here he also moves beyond that, however, to also highlight the friction in art and society between man-made and industrially-made objects. Tuazon’s work accentuates the tension between the expected uselessness of art objects and the utility of the industrially manufactured by merging both elements into his pieces, creating a hybrid form that also obfuscates its utilitarian origins.
His conclusion is presented through a series of constructions that create new ways of experiencing space through the juxtaposition of wood and metal beams, in some cases with concrete and marble, forming geometric shapes, which force the viewer to look and sometimes even walk through, around, and into them for a full effect.
One piece that balances the line between functionality and inutility most clearly is White Walls, the passageway in the form of something like a trapezoid depending on the angle from which you look, made of metal beams elevated on a concrete platform about 4 inches off the floor, separating and connecting two of the three exhibition rooms. Of course the need to connect the two rooms was manufactured by Tuazon himself, almost as a challenge to come up with an interesting solution to the space constraints he himself imposed.
Not only is the way we experience space a topic for Tuazon here, but as the title of the exhibition confirms, the hard work associated with making art, and namely the art that includes the actual mark of the artist’s hand. Tuazon takes a stand against the usual contemporary art suspects who seem to despise making, and choose to outsource that work to their employees. Granted with help, but primarily with his own hands, he constructs spaces that offer solutions, not necessarily to existing problems, but to our need for experience. In his own words, «I don’t have ideas, I just go to work.» And true to this motto, his work brings us back to the times when art was primarily made, not exclusively conceived.