Failed design for a ouija board, 2017
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In 1936, Walter Benjamin asked: what happens to the work of art when it is exposed to mechanical reproduction? Toby Ziegler’s work may be read as part of this questions’ lineage. Yet, now, the question must be reworked: the artwork must be considered in relation to digital reproduction. Ziegler’s response to this question involves modifying the conditions by which canonical artworks are known. The works of Matisse are jolted out of a limitless digital stream; placed into a setting where they may be reconsidered and reexamined.
Who did Ziegler want to contact with his attempted ouija board? The spirit of Henri Matisse; the dancers of ‘La Danse’? Or does Ziegler mean to suggest something else: is this a dance we are looking at, or a séance? Ziegler recalls the interpretation of ‘La Danse’ that aligns it with the dance macabre, the dance of death. Having been subjected to Ziegler’s process of obfuscation, we are left looking at ‘La Danse’, but also at figures linked together in a circle: the image re-appropriated by Ziegler for his own ends. Thus, the work compels us to question our preconceived suppositions. In the moment of perception, we look through the pink lattice at something we both know and don’t know.