Substance and Accident Dermot O'Brien January 13 - February 13, 2011
O'Brien's work often takes the form of the transformation of everyday objects into something new, wonderful and often magic in their simplicity and perfection of workmanship. Aristotle proposed the idea of substance and accident where an accident is something that has no connection to the essence of the thing described.
SUBSTANCE: what does not exist in another and not said of another
ACCIDENT: what exists in and is said of another
Thomas Aquinas developed the idea to incorporate parts of the catholic mass. The romans believe that in their rites, bread and wine are transformed into the actual blood and body of their Christ in an orgy of cannibalism. The accidents (the actual bread and wine, which is consumed) do not change, but their substance is said to.
In pottery, the notion of the accident is also almost a blessed event. Glazes come into their own inside the kiln and their final state is never known until the door is opened and the cooled pot emerges a swan or a lame duck.
O'Brien alludes to religious readings as well as his art historical ones, contrasting Duchampian tropes with belief systems that do not necessarily have the scope for change or the incorporation of the new, much less the accidents of time. O'Brien acts as the medieval alchemist in an attempt to transform base objects into something of value, corrugated iron becomes a shelter set alight by wit as well as electricity, or a machine for the production of sound (very loud sound at that) becomes muffled, muted, neutered by flocking, yet transformed into something that now speaks a very different language, and just as loudly but as visual noise.
MOCA showed Untitled (Kit) 1998, which had never been publicly exhibited in London. The work consists of a full sized 5 Piece Drum Kit, completely covered in grey flocking. He also presented a selection of his original working notebooks, which were selected from over a 20 year period.
O'Brien also presented two new sculptural works at PayneShurvell. The show in two sites was curated by Michael Petry. www.payneshurvell.com
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