Project Room

William J. O'Brien:
When Your Heart is On Fire, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

In the project room, Chicago-based artist William J. O'Brien will produce one of his all-out environments, which often include black and white murals, abject altars, shamanistic trash sculptures, Xerox prints, psychedelic lo-fi videos and homemade music. Drawing lessons from the example of folks like Jack Smith and Paul Thek, O'Brien marries the unwanted with the mystical, the cheap with the sublime, in gestures that refuse to acknowledge the difference between original and reproduction, authentic and appropriated, invented and stolen. In his work, overproduction and desire drive things to the point where all the discarded materials he employs take on an erotic appeal and the sheer quantity of things begins to coalesce into a closed universe with its own symbolic structures.

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