THE WATERS ARE UNSAFE: a solo exhibition by Robert O’Connor
Artist’s Reception: Thursday May 8, 2008 6-8pm
May 1, 2008
through May 31, 2008
NY Studio Gallery is pleased to present THE WATERS ARE UNSAFE by video artist and painter Robert O’Connor. Inspired by junk-mail charity letters, O’Connor focuses on the burden of empathy. He states: “But how can I possibly respond? How can I, or anyone for that matter, assimilate this constant stream of despair (not only from my mailbox but from the myriad communication sources that permeate modern life)? I’m afraid I might drown, or worse, become numb and stop caring.”
With these thoughts in mind, O’Connor created a single channel video and paintings around the images of two figures - one naked, floating in a sea of blackness, and the other dressed and coming to the other’s aid. The video, with haunting audio by Matt Page, reveals a struggle that makes us question the position of the “victim”. Text from the charity letters, a warning sign from a polluted spring, and a lesson plan from a Red Cross training manual are layered into these images and direct us to the larger themes of vulnerability and the limitations of empathy that drive this work.