Artist: Connor O’Brien
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
CSULB undergraduate, Connor O’Brien, is working toward his BFA degree in the school of Art’s Photography program. He has taken a keen interest to studio photography because of its controlled environment. His developing skill has enabled him to also fulfill the role of cinematographer, which is exemplified through the films he, his brother, and other collaborators work together to make. It is further exemplified through his exhibition.
Connor’s exhibition, Mentia, is of a single video playing on the wall directly across the entrance of the gallery. The three minute video showcases Connor’s father, Michael, who is diagnosed with dementia. Through a myriad number of medium shots and close-ups, the viewers become exposed to not only the daily care-taking involved, but also of the effect it takes on those diagnosed with it. In addition, the non-diegetic music incorporated, created by Connor’s cousin, elicits a sympathetic tone throughout the video.
Mentia serves as a way to raise awareness in matters regarding dementia. However, it also serves as a way for Connor to attempt to figure out whats going on with his father from an outside perspective. His, his brother’s, and his mother’s main focus for the past six years has been to make sure that Michael’s needs are taken care of. Thus, they have willingly taken it upon themselves to do almost all of his care-taking and will continue to do so until they are no longer needed. Nevertheless, it was not an easy transition for them, for, like most dementia cases, it came about almost instantaneously.
Connor’s exhibition was one of the most personal ones I’ve experienced. This is not because I could necessarily relate to it, but because its filmed in a way where the viewers, like myself, can build a connection. With that connection established, it was easy for me to imagine my own dad in Michael’s position and myself in Connor’s. In addition, I really enjoyed the small glimpses of when Michael smiled even though they were more of a stored up reaction than an intentional response.