artist / participant
For her second solo show at Spencer Brownstone Gallery, Amy O'Neill presents a major installation entitled Ojo de Dios, as well as a series of new works on paper.
Ojo de Dios is a replica of a long-deserted bomb shelter, strewn with the remnants of its previous inhabitation. Before entering the bunker, visitors are asked to wear "special protective glasses" designed for 3-D viewing. Once inside, we are confronted with an enormous psychedelic fluorescent mural of repeated spiral motifs, made with the improvised templates of aluminum can lids. The 3-D glasses and the shelter's blacklight combine to make the spirals appear to hover in space, and the viewers' own corneas and white clothes become luminous and mix with the fluorescent motifs in a cacophony of bits and pieces.
Outside the shelter, a series of works on paper form a counterpart to the installation. The drawings are based on three different collections of found postcards dating from the Cold War Era. The first set shows people in extravagantly lit underground caverns, dazed by what they see and hear. Biomorphic stalagmites of deep canary yellow and rich salmon purple are assigned the titles: Tatiana's Veil, and Devils Bake Oven. The second set of drawings presents images of Native American Indian villages, where brilliantly feathered people perform staged enactments of war dances with the same congested choreography and clashing colors as a Broadway production of Follies. A set of fountains designed for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair are the inspiration for the last group in the series. Following the original fountains' theme of "Peace through Understanding", O'Neill shows oceanic washes of black colliding with infinite starless skies.
Where Ojo de Dios is presented as a scenario of desperate improvisation, O'Neill's drawings highlight faked idealized places. Both draw their inspiration from the paranoiac representations of the Cold War era, where every brightly-hued fantasy worldview masked the equally vivid nightmare of nuclear annihilation.
Amy O'Neill was born in Pennsylvania in 1971 and currently lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland. Her acclaimed multi-media installations and drawings have been featured in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including solo shows at Centre d'Edition Contemporaine, Geneva, Switzerland; Circuit, Lausanne; CAP, Friburg; Francesca Pia Galerie, Bern; and Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York. O'Neill has participated in many group exhibitions, including this year's Prague Biennial; Smart Project Space, Amsterdam; '7 Grays' at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; 'How is Everything? Everything's Going to be ... Alright', curated by Bob Nickas, at Elizabeth Cherry Contemporary Art, Tuscon, AZ; 'Architectural Drawing Show', curated by Klaus Biesenbach, at PS1, New York; and 'Lo-Fi Baroque', at Thread Waxing Space, New York.
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