In Residence: James Ostrer ‘Post Apoca-Lips’

In Residence: James Ostrer ‘Post Apoca-Lips’


The first works I ever made I took them in and showed these six works to my therapist. I remember her saying have you ever thought about making happy art? Fourteen years later that is what I’ve started to engage with. I just enjoy it. It makes me happy. That’s not answering your question directly at all, but what was the question? This is formerly an artist called Andrew Logan’s private home and atelier for his work. There’s an energy here that you can’t really explain. When I first arrived in this room the tree was the only thing you were drawn to looking at. Almost the pointlessness of human creativity starts to play with your mind. It’s like the beauty in nature is so incredible. It’s almost like the squiggles kind of grew out from the tree. I enjoy moving around the lines emotionally. I don’t know. What do you think of it? My work’s kind of been like a self-help course. It’s like I’m the therapist as well as the client kind of thing. As I’ve become healthier and happier that has expanded out into a wider political kind of dialogue for me. Why is there so much uncomfortability in conflict and how does that relate in terms of how people have experienced love ultimately? This piece has got my mother’s cigarette packets it’s got a wine box with some texts on it that she wrote, funnily enough, saying “Ciggie packets, I’m gonna win the Turner Prize when I make this sculpture” and I actually found that in her garage. She doesn’t know I’ve made this sculpture. I regard her as an informal archivist. Some people might lean towards saying well, aren’t you a bit of a hoarder if you collect all your cigarette packets with no intention of doing anything with them? Well, she wants me to make her tombstone out of them. My art is about trying to transition us back into a place where we actually realize it’s not all about us. They’re sort of like a combination between hunting trophies and love totems. Like that piece over there. It’s got sausages coming out of the mouth, Disney toy eyes real horns. I’m also interested in creating work that is representative of our time and a reflection of what we’re doing, how we’re engaging in the food chain. I mean even sitting here wearing a hunting jacket that someone convinced me to buy in a thrift store in L.A. is so opposing to my actual behavior and my relationship to animals. I’ve only ever used animals besides the fur coats which are in the human food chain. So, zebra is manufactured in South Africa as a food produce. Something that can be super affronting in the context for one person can be super normal in another. They’re the lines that I enjoy playing with. The sausages from a commercial on TV mixed with horns from nature with Disney, with paint and color and it’s like the complexity of the narrative of corporate profit and business and human survival. If the hard drives of the internet were to melt and everything was morphed into something that like another species came back found them and worked out like “What happened to Planet Earth?” “What was this?” The aliens would go “Oh, okay. That’s what fucking happened.” This show is called ‘Post Apoca-Lips’ and the term apocalypse we know it in terms of literature as being associated with the end of the world but actually the Greek word apocalypse just means the beginning of unknown which is for me a life of happiness and real true positive engagement with myself and therefore then how I relate to others. What is the point of making art? The side of this building opens and from the street there’s so many people who walk past you engage initially with obviously seeing that incredible tree and then the energy somehow that’s transferred even to just random people walking by and being able to come into the show or me welcoming them in. That is just one of the greatest joys in life. Whether it’s just having a conversation or how someone responds to my work more people engage with it and that’s fucking exciting and that’s for me what art is about.

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