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WITNESSES (article first published : 2000-02-5)

The NSA Galleries will present an exhibition titled Witnesses by Michael O'Donnell from February 6 to 24.

Michael O'Donnell is a British artist living in Norway. This exhibition is the third part of a series of shows which opened in Malmo, in the south of Sweden, on January 22. The second part opened in the very north of Sweden, on the Finnish border at the end of January and the third weekend sees the opening at the NSA Galleries in Durban.

“This multi-media exhibition is primarily about collective memory, wherein potentially ordinary events - viewed at a distance and within a new context - take on a new significance,” explains Michael O’Donnell who completed his Master of Art in 1974 at the Royal College of Art in London and has since exhibited widely in Europe. “Participants at these events - whether by chance or design - are witnesses on our behalf, for our collective heritage. Their presence, their eyes prove, beyond reasonable doubt that what took place, took place - but unaware at the time of the larger reading of what they had witnessed. Time shifts a series of factual events into extraordinary milestones - which have their congregation, their participants, their passers-by who become unknowingly involved.”

The exhibition consists of video projection, a light piece, and two large-scale photo-installations. The first is a 6m X 6m square portrait, a large, single head, of a person at the tape when Jesse Owens won at the Berlin Olympics of 1936, where the 'host' (Adolf Hitler) turned away, ignoring the moment of triumph. The second photo-installation consist of 350 small portraits from the crowd photograph by Heinrich Hoffman, taken in Odeonsplatz, Munich on August 14, 1914, celebrating the start of the war to end all wars. Hoffman encircled the head of the young Adolf Hitler - sent the photo to him and became Hitler's personal photographer till the end in Berlin.

Details from NSA Galleries curator Storm Janse van Rensburg on 202-2293. e-mail: iartnsa@mweb.co.za




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