GOMA Q: Liam O’Brien







Liam O’Brien, Australia b.1987 / Domestication (stills) 2014 / High-definition, single-channel video: 10:15 minutes, colour, stereo, ed. of 5 / Courtesy: The artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney / © The artist

This striking video work by Liam O’Brien addresses contemporary societal pressures and the resulting sense of confusion and alienation felt by many in today’s world. Specifically, the artist conveys the difficulty in resolving feelings of desire, intimacy and belonging, and how these feelings are appropriated, exploited and negated.

My work explores the ambiguity of freedom and the construction of individuality under late capitalism…. As it is largely our values and desires that determine our actions and what we consider meaningful in life, it is only through critical analysis of the basis of those values that we may truly understand ourselves and minimise the influence that external forces have on our decision-making.

Events in my personal life caused me to question the nature and importance of interpersonal relationships, which I began to see as embodiments of autonomous value. Autonomous in the sense that no relationship has any predetermined worth, yet over time the significance of some relationships shapes both our experiences and our identities. Adversely, Domestication became an exploration of a deformed sense of intimacy seemingly symptomatic of the times, whether through a misguided identification with objects of desire, or via mediated social interaction through technology and the exhibition platform.

Thus, the strong emotional content of O’Brien’s work underscores the fundamental influence of such an environment on the individual.

Liam O’Brien recently won the Clayton Utz Art Award for a contemporary video piece, the first time a video has won the prize. The Award is open to Queensland-based artists or artists with a strong connection to the state.

Domestication is on view in ‘GOMA Q: Contemporary Queensland Art’ at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) until 11 October. The accompanying publication profiles the latest innovations and achievements by some of Queensland’s leading visual artists working across drawing, painting, photography, video, installation, performance, ceramics and sculpture.