Tré Reising is not post-internet. His work is designed specifically to go viral. Many post internet artists are taking their references from the digital and creating work based on the digital age, but Reising seems to work backward from that. His work is sculptural, tactile, handmade, and relatable, intended to be shared widely on the internet. His sculptures reflect, subvert, and directly quote pop culture; an important part of his process, part of his aim, is to attract the attention of the celebrity entities he references, often through Twitter or other social media. His work has been featured on Vice, Complex, Art F City, MTV, Buzzfeed, in exhibition with Sol LeWitt, onstage and in private collections of multiple hip hop celebrities.
A commission last year from the Indianapolis Int’l Airport, was censored in the eleventh hour for its overt (though tongue-in-cheek) support of rebellious teen pop-star, Justin Bieber. Bieber, who originally found fame through YouTube, is now an international pop sensation. As any over-important 19 year old with millions of dollars would do, Bieber found himself on a path of exorbitant partying and misbehaving.
Just days before Reising’s #Belieb sculpture was set to be installed in Indianapolis, Bieber was arrested for drag-racing Lamborghinis—intoxicated, without a license, while his black SUV entourage blocked the road. The police report reads like a scene from a Fast & Furious movie, except the cars never exceeded 60mph.
The Indianapolis Airport decided that this (un)timely show of support for the singer would have a negative backlash. Reising took the cancelled project as an opportunity for buzz. He issued a press release, and capitalized on the intended viral nature of the work in a whole new way.
In the end, the airport paid Reising for the unwanted sculpture, paid for his time and travel from New York, and commissioned a new artwork, which was installed last month. The new sculpture, Live, Love, Laugh, Laugh Until You Cry, is a sarcastically G-Rated work, again designed to capture the imagination of the broad, public audience found in an international airport.
The glittering emoji-cons can be shared as a picture message, and have already been widely shared on social media and internet news media outlets. In addition to the conventional vinyl letters on the exhibition window, Reising includes his name as a glittering hashtag, encouraging viewers to post the work to their internet media avenue of choice.
(photos courtesy of Tré Reising & Austin Dickson)