Oliver Laric: new exhibition subverts animation to show the uncertainty of representation (4 stars)

Playful exhibition examining the dynamic context of images

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Oliver Laric

courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton, Berlin.

Animation is the perfect art form and subject matter for Austria-born artist Oliver Laric, who routinely subverts ideas relating to authorship and originality. He is an (anti)-hero of the contemporary art world, eschewing the burden of being the 'genius' lone artist by making artwork that is belligerently self-effacing.

Laric's title-less short film at Tramway is a nightmarish trip of colliding icons and morphing cartoon bodies. Some of the imagery – borrowed from disparate sources such as Disney, YouTube and other corners of the web – is instantly recognisable; other clips stir the memory but remain elusive.

The film opens with oddly disturbing shots of hybridized children's toys rotating against a stark white background. If you saw a child playing with a plastic spanner that bore reptilian features you might not immediately register how bizarre it is that the object should exist. But under Laric's deadpan scrutiny, and projected large onto a gallery wall, the object appears both ridiculous and complex. Who dreamed up this object? Why make it? From what country does it originate? If an artist making kitsch objects – Jeff Koons, say, or Takashi Murakami – had created it, it might be considered a brilliant piece of art.

At times it is explicitly revealed to us how images are borrowed for new creations (we see The Jungle Book's Mowgli alongside Winnie the Pooh's Christopher Robin and realise the exact same choreography is used for both characters at one point in both Disney animations) and at others it is the material quality of animation itself that is tested, as familiar characters and forms are twisted and pulled apart at the will of the new author, Laric. It's a reminder that our representational world is as mutable, complex and as real as our physical world.

Tramway, Sat 21 Jan – Sun 19 Mar.

Oliver Laric

Solo exhibition by Berlin-based artist exploring historical and contemporary image economies.

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