With a face of golden pleasure, elegantly destroy by Heather M. O’Brien Takahashi
A highlight piece from our In Line Exhibition by Heather M. O’Brien Takahashi is currently on view in the Neil and Mary Ellen Dillard Media and Performance Gallery.
A description courtesy of the artist:
Opia (Heather M. O’Brien + Jonathan Takahashi)
With a face of golden pleasure, elegantly destroy
Single channel film, HD video, color/sound, 2021 – ongoing
Water is never still. And what else to say about water, after having seen the immense walls of dark stones of the palaces and old houses of Beirut, except that water continues to love and to destroy the fortress of spirit that characterizes Lebanon. Water reduces this spirit of conquest and of negation of old Lebanon––to walls of canvas whose gashes are death for matter and a window for the liberation of the mind. Should water, therefore, be thought only in relation to its sites, and within the civilizations to which it belongs?
Opia is a researched-based collaboration between Jonathan Takahashi and Heather M. O’Brien. Rooted in lens and screen-based practices, Opia reveals inaccuracies in visual representation. The work builds encounters with familial archives, constructs of nationhood, and the illusion of accurate memory. Their projects have led them from complex familial photographic archives of WWII to the flows of water politics and poetics in Beirut, Lebanon. Opia is concerned with how the site of place, shelter, and community directly define issues of identity and belonging, for it is within this site of locality that the personal and political are inextricably linked. Research interests include expanded cinema and psychoanalysis, alternative histories of photography, and the contemporary essay film. Opia aims to create a ‘Third Cinema Space’, informed by Homi K. Bhaba’s Third Space Theory, the work of Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire and the Latin American film movement from the 1960s–70s.
An “opia” is a condition of sight, or the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable—pupils glittering, opaque, and endless. Opia re-contextualizes this function by building photographic and film/video installations that consider the Lacanian difference between the ‘gaze’ and the ‘look’. Their projects also draw from Laura Mulvey’s concept of male gaze in visual culture, from re-examining patriarchal militaristic imperialisms, to re-framing historical voyeurism of the female body.
To view the piece in person, visit Artspace 304 on Wednesday – Saturday from 12-5 pm. The piece can also be viewed online below.