Oli Sorenson.

Video Pistoletto is inspired by the works of Arte Povera artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, who aimed to realign art with the preoccupations of everyday life. Sorenson revisited Pistoletto’s mirror-breaking performance by replacing his mirrors with video screens. This series premiered in December 2014 at Popop Gallery (Montreal), then was delivered in numerous venues including Sao Paulo’s FILE festival, Nuit Blanche in Quebec City, and most recently in Kassel during DokFest 2017, breaking three 36-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) screens in front of a live audience.

When hitting screens with a chisel and hammer, liquid crystals splash out of their individual cells while staying partially sensitive to the video signal, and generate organic compositions within the glass fragments trapped atop the light boxes, which stay fully operational behind the debris. Thus via the destruction of massively produced commodities, Sorenson makes one-of-a-kind works that can never be recreated, due to the unpredictable nature of the glass-breaking process.


Sorenson's broken TVs are rendered into concrete objects since viewers can no longer look through them as windows to far-away worlds. They must now look at the immediate material properties of second hand and refurbished screens that dropped in value with age or because of minor factory defaults. Ironically, Arte Povera’s mission to select poor materials is fully achieved when choosing electronic goods, since these are doomed to depreciate by simply following Moore's law.

Embedding failed technology into art objects, Video Pistoletto reverses the prescribed flows of planned obsolescence, when the broken screens become more valuable by morphing into collectible performance artefacts. Moreover, Sorenson consistently deflects any question about the technical functionality of this series (how does it work?), to instead discuss how it addresses contemporary issues (what does it mean?). Once the performances are done, the artist claims it no longer matters how the screens work, since they are now broken.

Video Pistoletto, 14 min performance over three 36-inch screens and three-channel video (before and after). DokFest, Kassel, Nov. 2017

Video Pistoletto (first few strikes). DokFest, Kassel, Nov. 2017

Video Pistoletto (half-way into the performance). DokFest, Kassel, Nov. 2017

Video Pistoletto (screen details during performance). DokFest, Kassel, Nov. 2017

Video Pistoletto (screen detail after performance). DokFest, Kassel, Nov. 2017

Video Pistoletto (final composition of screens 01 and 03). DokFest, Kassel, Nov. 2017

Video Pistoletto (close-up screendetails after performance). DokFest, Kassel, Nov. 2017


©Sorenson 2018 some rights reserved