Josh Tonsfeldt
Josh Tonsfeldt, Untitled, 2011


Josh Tonsfeldt draws on his childhood and everyday experiences, yet continuously invents new logics which frame his conceptual practice. Cagean, predetermined rules of activity mixed with technological methods are used to convey often delicate imagery of natural phenomena, rural myth or human or animal gestures in Tonsfeldt’s videos, photographs, drawings and installations. Not only is Tonsfeldt interested in multiple technologies, he also adds to this tradition by including his own or others’ bodies in collaborations with machines. This links with themes of the often materially contingent, transformative or decaying in his work. For example, Tonsfeldt communicates the intense materiality of the ephemeral in a series of installations made out of reconfigured spiderwebs. The futility collecting the webs was also the basis for Tonsfeldt’s inspiration for the video Untitled (2008). Here, the body of a man wearing cowboy boots is seen dancing hillbilly style in a barn in a rural American setting. The awkward figure kicks up horse manure from the ground with frenetic spasms until he becomes blurred by the dust. Filmed with handheld camera and with only ambient sounds, the video plays with the ridiculousness in the performance of a meaningless act while also evoking ideas of dreams and desires. It may point to both the artistic practice itself as well as be a metaphor for American politics or a mythological America.