Weaving narrative between films, object-making and performance, I utilize sound and its synesthetic displacement onto materials. I am hard of hearing and collaborate with Deaf and hearing composers and artists, building a visual, aural, and haptic vocabulary through varying levels of access to sound, color and material. My work explores perceptual, emotional and bodily comprehension through the corporeal experiences and histories of the objects, locations, and performers I work with. These collaborations invite sensitivity to the loss and abundance of sound, its impact on social situations, and the potential of transforming the aural world.
My work currently manifests as narrative feature-length films and sculptures made in response to listening to commissioned music. I consider my engagement with the different mediums as a form of call-and-response, building upon and translating the language that is particular or inherent to one specific medium onto the other. These translations become attempts to explain the experience of one medium through a second set of criteria, a process that results in what I call ‘quasi closed-captions’ . ‘Quasi-closed captions’ refers to the differences in content between information conveyed in subtitles for a Deaf or a hard of hearing audience, and the actual words or sound being delivered, despite the general subtext remaining the same for both. I am particularly interested in the poetic possibility within these gaps of information.
My current project, The Tuba Thieves, takes its title from a rash of tuba thefts from Los Angeles area high schools that have occurred over the past few years. It is speculated that the tubas bring a high price on the black market. These massive instruments that make massive sounds remain missing. I’m struck by the resounding impact of these tuba thefts: that communities must emotionally, financially, and musically reconcile with this lack of closure and sound. In response to these thefts, I commissioned three musical scores from three composers (Steve Roden, Christine Sun Kim, Ethan Frederick Greene), whom I presented with poems, news stories about the tuba thefts, photos of concert halls and resonant architecture and other elements to consider as a ‘score’ for their score. My approach reverses the usual process of filmmaking by starting with the music. For months after receiving their compositions, I drove, walked, worked in my studio while listening and allowed their music to inform every decision I made while simultaneously creating a body of objects and writing a screenplay.
What resulted was a film about a Deaf drummer whose relationships with her hearing father and hearing boyfriend are impacted by not only the tuba thefts, but also the reverberations of two concerts from the past: the 1952 premier of John Cage’s 4’33” and a punk concert hosted by Bruce Conner at The Deaf Club in San Francisco in 1980.
Material and formal decisions in sculptures might re-occur in the films and the titles of sculptures are often lines plucked from the screenplay, chosen as poetic associations where formal decisions in the sculptures reflect or refract moments within the filmic narrative and vice versa.
While standing in front of a sculpture titled ‘Tell Nature Boy He Owes Me 50 Bucks’, I hope the audience will create their own filmic, but screen-less narrative based on the limited cues available and therefore move beyond the inaccessible, imagining what kind of scene might contain the sculpture’s title as a line of dialogue, what kind of music informed the decision-making in regards to materials, composition and color, and thus engage in a collaborative, imaginary musical accompaniment that completes the work by cobbling together bits of information to surmise meaning. While each object is given its own narrative arc, simultaneously sound within the film is sculptural, engendering a sensory, physical understanding of the aural sphere. As the film wraps around you, the corporeal space invites the viewer into a collaborative stance or a duet. A form of exploded storytelling emerges therefore between bodies of work and bodies of audience members that carry varying levels of ability and experience, resulting in a more musical and performative narrative arc that is less reliant on traditional script structure and more on physical choreography.
This current body of work extends certain ideas that I began exploring in my first feature length film, Night Sky from 2011, which premiered at Performa 11 with two nights of live performance. Night Sky was conceived and produced in collaboration with a cast of performers, artists, filmmakers, Sign Language interpreters and musicians, half of whom are deaf and half of whom are hearing/non-signing. The film, which is presented with live musical or Sign Language accompaniment, centers on two women, Cleo (played by Deaf actress Evelina Gaina) and Jay (played by Jeanne-Marie Mandell). Cleo is deaf, Jay is hearing and they take a road trip to the California desert near Joshua Tree. Simultaneous to their travels, there is a dance contest happening in a parallel universe, wherein the touch of dancers’ hands affects the music being played by the Los Angeles duo Lucky Dragons. The overall story of the film was understood differently by different audience members, depending upon whether or not they are fluent in American Sign Language, which was not subtitled in the film.
2010 MFA, University of California, Irvine
2007 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME
2005 Postgraduate Diploma of Fine Art, Goldsmith’s College, U of London, UK
2003 BFA, Cleveland Institute of Art, Ohio
2013 Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant, New York, NY
2012 Art Matters Grant, New York, NY
2012 Franklin Furnace Fund fellowship, New York, NY
2011 California Community Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship, L.A., CA
2010 Puffin Foundation Grant
2009 Thessaly Lynn Miles Award, Irvine, CA
2009 Medici Foundation Artists Fellowship, Irvine, CA
2007 Stuttgart Filmwinter film festival, Stuttgart, Germany, 1st Prize,
2007 Peter B. Lewis Skowhegan Fellowship Skowhegan, ME and New York, NY
2003 1st Agnes Gund Award, C.I.A., Cleveland, OH
2014 Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (forthcoming)
2013 Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE (forthcoming)
2012-2013 Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA
2012 Critical Disability Studies Artist Residency, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA
2008 Vermont Studio Center, sculpture resident, Johnson, VT
2008 The Genesis Project, Sea and Space Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
SELECTED EXHIBITIONS / SCREENINGS / PERFORMANCES
Some Fine Women, Vast Space Projects, Las Vegas, NV
Rogue Wave, L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice CA
Quasi Closed-Captions (solo), Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
The Archaic Revival, Zic Zerp Galerie, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
One Hand Clapping (solo), Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA
Ma Prochaine Vie, Courtesy at For Your Art, Los Angeles, CA
Breaks and Breaks, Provincetown Art Association Museum, Provincetown, MA
Staring Eyes, Third Party Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
What Can a Body Do?, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford, PA
Gateway Drugs, The Nightingale, Chicago, IL
You Must Change Your Life, Krowswork, Oakland, CA
Prince at the Forum, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, CA
Night Sky screening, Museum of Jurassic Technology, L.A., CA
Night Sky screening, The Guild Cinema, Albuquerque, NM
Plus Gallery, Denver, CO
Night Sky screening, MOCAD, Detroit, MI
Night Sky screening,The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Night Sky screening, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY
Night Sky screening, NYU, NY, NY
Whirled Cinema, London, UK
Fuse Box Contemporary Art and Performance Festival, Austin, TX
Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, The Blackbox, L.A., CA
Walking Forward, Running Past, Art In General, NY, NY
PERFORMA 11, Anthology Film Archives, NY, NY
L.A. Makes Art 2011, Calfund Fellows Exhibition, CAA, Century City, CA
The Church of Public Fiction, Museum of Public Fiction, L.A., CA
9 Stories, LAXART, Culver City, CA
FemAdlib, RampART, London, UK
Deaf Mountain (solo), Workspace 2601, Los Angeles, CA
Conceptual Telegraphy & the Sound of the Wind Through its Wires, Workspace, L.A., CA
Strange Stranger, Strange Ranger Circus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Egosdayglo, Five Thirty Three, Los Angeles, CA
Filmwinter, Stuttgart Film Festival, Stuttgart, Germany
The Golden Fluffer, Transitions Gallery, London, UK
Rencontres Film Festival, Paris, France
Oberhausen Film Festival, Oberhausen, Germany
European Media Arts Festival, Osnabruck, Germany
NYC vs. LDN, Inflatable Collapsing People, Sweet Home Gallery, NY, NY
Never Finished, Always Ready, Spitalfields, London, UK
Living in a Material World, Constance Howard Gallery, London, UK
Ladyspace, Kunstlerhaus, Vienna, Austria
Back From Spacelab, Spaces Gallery, Cleveland, OH
Montevideo, Netherlands Media Art Institute, Deep Woods ©2005
Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, India, The Travelling, collaboration with artist, Sreshta Premnath
Berardini, Andrew. “Alison O’Daniel.” ArtReview, October 2013, p. 141.
Dambrot, Shana Nys. “Alison O’Daniel: A New Sensibility of Blended Senses.” KCET Artbound, Sep. 25, 2013.
Drucker, Johanna. “Shut Up and Listen to the Artists!” Los Angeles Review of Books, Sep 5, 2013.
Mizota, Sharon. “Review. Alison O’Daniel at Samuel Freeman.” L.A. Times, Aug 8, 2013.
Wagley, Catherine. “Art about Tuba Thieves.” LA Weekly, Aug 8, 2013.
Kramer, Emily. “Whistle While You Work.” Droste Effect, Aug 5, 2013.
Pagel, David. “Review: ‘Rogue Wave’ at L.A. Louver a micro-biennial at its best.” L.A. Times, Aug 2,
Pate, Christopher. “LA in the Summer.” Installation Magazine, Issue 18, July 2013.
Cachia, Amanda. “What Can a Body Do?” (catalogue), Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Oct 2012.
McCullough, Danielle. “Alison O’Daniel: Night Sky.” Whitehot Magazine, Oct, 2012.
Gerrity, Jeanne. “Best Performa Reprise in the East Bay: Alison O’Daniel, Night Sky, Krowswork, July 7, 2012.” Art Practical, August 2012.
Bankhead, Steven and Jesse Benson. “Prince at the Forum” (catalogue), Beacon Arts Center, April
Tuck, Geoff. “Field Notes: Black Box, Alison O’Daniel, etc.” Notes on Looking. February 6, 2012. http://notesonlooking.com/?p=11590
Harren, Natilee. “Alison O’Daniel. 500 Words”. Art Forum. January 25, 2012.
Myers, Holly. “Pacific Standard Time: Young Artists Talk about the sweeping exhibit”. Los Angeles
Times. Sunday, January 22, 2012.
Baum, Gary and Marissa Gluck and Alexis Johnson. “Arts & Power”. Angeleno Modern Luxury, (Dec. 2011): p. 73.
Berardini, Andrew. “How’s This?” MOUSSE Contemporary Art Magazine, Issue 28 (Apr May 2011): p. 2-5.
Mackler, Lauren. “The Church Issue”, The Public Fiction Quarterly, no. 1 (August 2011): p. 22-23.
Smith, Kent. “Dancing Double Dutchers’”. Pressure Magazine. Vol. I, Issue IV (Apr 2007): 13-14.
Henry, Fran. “Double the Fun: Enthusiastic Group Playfully Merges Performance Art and Jump-Roping.” The Plain Dealer. Thursday, February 15, 2007: p. E1-E4.
Channing, Susan R. and Jeffrey D. Grove. “Back From Spacelab: 10 Years of Innovation”, (catalogue)
Spaces Gallery, Cleveland, OH 2004