SafARI Artist Profile: Liam O’Brien
Introducing artist Liam O'Brien who is just one of the few select artists who are part of SafARI 2014. O'Brien's work is for the most part performance art through videography and photography and is quite consistent in exploring human freedom, questioning social ideals within pre-existing systems. Within his performance art, a tendency toward self-inflicting pain is used as a tool to access a greater understanding of the struggles that one must endure to overcome pre-disposed societal idealisms. He also works with disrupting the calm of public environments with various rebellious undertakings which serve to pose questions about how we live our own lives within a society that is dominated by pre-existing systems that we comply with.
Liam was awarded the Art & Australia(/Credit Swisse Private Banking) Contemporary Art Award 2013 and has been a finalist of awards such as The John Fries Memorial Prize, The Churchie National Emerging Art Award and the Jeremy Hynes Award.
His 2013 single channel video installation The Glaze builds upon his research into individuality and the construction of meaning and will be exhibited at DNA Projects.
How was it that you got involved in SafARI?
I knew a few people who had been involved in previous years and they had all loved the experience. When I heard about their call-out online I applied and was fortunate enough to be selected.
Your practice involves mainly videography and photography to explore the body within urban spaces. When was it that you started working this way and why?
I started performing for the camera in 2009 whilst in my 3rd year of study at the Queensland College of Art. I was making the ‘Futility’ photo series and chose the space based on the reading it would encourage. After that I became interested in re-appropriating urban spaces through performance, which became the ‘Proposals’ video series. Aside from those I wouldn’t say that the body in urban space is an ongoing subject in my work.
Your work investigates personal freedom and societal strains. Can you extend on this and also what else you like to communicate through your art?
Personal freedom is the overarching focus of my work but that’s a very extensive and subjective topic. What ‘freedom’ is to one person may be completely different to that of another, so the construction of individuality becomes important as it informs what one perceives to be valuable and meaningful. Some of the other things I’ve looked at include alcoholism, absurdism, failure and self-flagellation.
Finally, what do you want your audience to take from this exhibition?
This particular exhibition is aimed more towards creating a space for contemplation in which individual audience members can generate their own meanings. What they take away depends on them.
Liam O'Brien for SafARI
3 Blackfriars St
14th March - 4th April
By Lauren Hansom.