Union Gallery

Image of the Gallery

project room

... to forget his own experiences,
but not the thoughts that were evoked by them.

Kyle O'Brien
March 16 - April 5, 2011
Reception: April 1st, 6-8 pm

Kyle's Installation

“Every act is an answer or a question, or perhaps both.” - Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks (1952)

Much of our mainstream (mis)conceptions about ‘Africa’ are perpetuated through imagery produced and consumed by the West. We often assume these ideas to be the ‘truth’, failing to acknowledge that they are often superficial, inaccurate and/or culturally constructed.

After teaching health education last summer with a grassroots NGO in informal settlements in and around Nairobi, Kenya, O’Brien returned with the feeling of purposelessness, skepticism, resentment and guilt. With more questions than answers, he began using my work as a way to process this experience. In reflecting on his position in this foreign context, the work deals with questions of morality, cultural representation, stereotypes, image, and ‘truth’, in interactions between the West and the “Other”.

This piece investigates ideas of photographing the ‘Other’ and asks questions regarding validity of any visual representation. Using his own contradictions as source material, the artist acknowledges his subjectivity in taking photos and the notion of ‘truth’ as relative. He explore the importance of examining our consumption of images, and considering how cultural perception is framed through what is seen and thought to be understood.

Kyle O’Brien is a 4th year Fine Art student who feels more at home when he is not at ‘home’. After finishing his degree, he looks forward to experiencing more extended travel and furthering his understanding of issues of representation and cross-cultural encounters of the ‘Other’.