Review: Maggie O’Hara’s “Gestures of Persistence”

It’s been over a year since Maggie O’Hara, a photography MFA candidate, made a still photograph.

Instead, she spent that time pulling together the anxiety-ridden projection and installation work that populates Gestures of Persistence, her exhibition currently on display at Non-Fiction Gallery. To ensure viewers feel the nervous voyeurism that O’Hara intended, the gallery windows will remain completely blacked out through Monday, October 12.

“The work began as an investigation of ideas of anxiety and developed into an exploration of the psycho-physical self – a person’s mental state in relation to the physicality of their body and the interconnectedness between the two,” she explains.

Heavily inspired by the works of Marina Abramovic and Bas Jan Ader, O’Hara’s video performances are engrossing and confrontational. On one screen she’s ripping an apple apart with her bare hands, on another she’s staring, unblinking, at patrons who’ve just entered the gallery space, her eye stubbornly open against a steady flow of tears. Like many artists who came before her, O’Hara conceptualizes each performance as a test of endurance.

And, I should add, those performances are expertly edited. In one piece, a split channel video of O’Hara violently squeezing a balloon bounces between television screens. The image flickers and crackles, creating a dialogue of tension as the video loops and we never get the relief of seeing the balloon finally pop. O’Hara toys with us in every piece, cleverly subverting our expectations with the ephemeral nature of her medium.

It’s simple, but highly effective. “I’m interested,” she says, “in exploring the frustration of desire.”

See more images from “Gestures of Persistence” on the @savartinfo Instagram.

Kayla Goggin

Author: Kayla Goggin

Kayla Goggin is the editor of the Savannah Art Informer.

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  1. Top 10 Art Shows of 2015 | Savannah Art Informer - […] O’Hara’s ultra tense (and expertly crafted) installation show made a huge impression on us. In a video art desert,…

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