Los Angeles-based artists Jesse Fleming and Pat O’Neill, although distinct in their process and subject matter, each raises questions in their film and video work about the self in relation to others, collective norms, and the built environment. For their joint exhibition, Patterns Bigger Than Any of Us, opening on Sunday, May 7 from 4-6pm at the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design, they direct us to see the links and fissures in our lives and the larger systems that we attempt to grapple with— from science to spirituality, and the spaces they straddle.
In a Los Angeles Times review of Pat O’Neill’s solo exhibition at Cherry and Martin, art critic David Pagel compellingly described the open-ended nature of the artist’s work, stating that it is, “…all about loose ends, rough edges, and patterns bigger than any of us”. This assertion points to a line of inquiry present in both Pat O’Neill and Jesse Fleming’s individual practices.
O’Neill’s two-channel projection environment, No Wonder - Two Skins (2013) fills the front half of the Ben Maltz Gallery, and Fleming’s multichannel video installation, A Theory of Everything (2015) occupies the back. This presentation creates a chronological bridge between the works, suggesting a comparison of American society of the past and present. Both artists mine and collage found and original footage to create a new story, void of straight narrative and cinematic convention.
O’Neill draws from the ephemeral films in the Prelinger Archives, which include thousands of titles produced by and for corporations, interest groups, and institutions that are now in the public domain. No Wonder - Two Skins combines various clips from the 1940s/50s that include educational tutorials about health, relationships, and science, as well as landscape and industrial scenes. Fleming sources videos from YouTube that depict more recent events such as a TED Talk, dance rave, and drumline performance. Through an act of recontextualization, Fleming and O’Neill offer a critical perspective to consider these forms of mass gathering, promotion, and propaganda.
Patterns Bigger Than Any of Us will be on view from May 7 to August 12, 2017, with a public opening reception on Sunday, May 7, from 4 to 6pm. The exhibition is curated by Kate McNamara, director of galleries and exhibitions, and Paulina Samborska, curatorial programming coordinator. Additional exhibition programming to be announced, visit www.otis.edu/benmaltzgallery for more information.
Photos: Top, Pat O’Neill, No Wonder – Two Skins, 2013, Video still; Bottom, Jesse Fleming, A Theory of Everything, 2015, Video still.