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Staff Pick: Elizabeth Onusko

September 14, 2009


beth_onusko-small.jpg I am intrigued by the work of visual artist Morgan O’Hara . She calls her project “Live Transmission: attention and drawing as time-based performance.” Essentially, while watching concerts, lectures, and sporting events, even a kung fu battle, O’Hara holds one or several pencils in each hand, and without taking her gaze off of her subject, mimics his/her/their motions in order to record them on paper. As a result, O’Hara notes, “unremarkable or normally unnoticed movement patterns are rendered visible through oscillographic or seismograph-like drawings done in real time in real life.“ And that is precisely what the drawings look like—seismographs gone manic, pencilblots rather than inkblots. Sometimes O’Hara projects oversized versions of the images on to walls, which she painstakingly paints; other times, she creates installations based on the original drawings. The work is at once sculptural and poetic.

Her work fascinates me not only because the images themselves are stunning and require study, but because the philosophy behind her work complements it, is equally compelling. As a poet, I have often wondered what it would feel like to be a performing artist instead, and the one thought I always return to is that the art itself is lost—unless recorded, and even then, some essential component goes missing—upon the completion of the performance. O’Hara’s work is complete in itself, and it also serves as an exquisite archive of motion and its interpretations.

Bio: Elizabeth Onusko is managing editor of Guernica. Read her last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1234/staff_pick_elizabeth_onusko_2/.

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