Jamie O'Connell (*1985)
is an artist who lives
and works in Melbourne.

Selected Works in
Progress

Photo by Christian Capurro
Photo by Christian Capurro
Photo by Christian Capurro

More Day Than Beyonce: Procession (2016)

This is the first instalment of a new major project, exhibited for the first time at Melbourne's Gertrude Contemporary in Janurary of 2016. The title references a motivational coffee mug bearing the slogan ‘Remember you have as many hours in a day as Beyonce.’ A suggestion that we are all Beyonce, only not yet! You just have to work 24 hours a day, by drinking coffee.

This then became the launching point for a study into national histories, economic models and cultural migrations – examining the manner in which history is made by bodies set in motion. Upon a runway in Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, O’Connell asks us to imagine a means to cease turning with the earth, marrying the top speed of one of the world’s fastest production bikes with this specific point on the turning earth – riding against the spin of the earth to achieve a moment of stillness at remarkable speeds. This rapid form of motion is then counterpointed by the deliberately slow movement of people walking, and the histories shaped by this undertaking.

Such a walk was the first instalment of More day than Beyonce, which took place on January 26, 2016. O’Connell identified the unbroken stretch of road that runs past the front of Gertrude Contemporary to be the exact length and orientation as the runway in Svalbard, a 2.2 km, east-west stretch of bitumen, bracketed by the hat factory at the bottom of Langridge street and the Carlton Gardens at the top of Gertrude street. Upon this twinned street, a group of volunteers were enlisted to collectively lift the motorbike and walk this length, crucially carrying the bike at the thickness of the runway, suggesting one site laid atop the other. This action then elicits a further doubling, as the runway built upon the road suggests a further smoothing out of rough surfaces: becoming an allegory for the making of historical narrative. In this way the work then becomes as much about what is below the runway as above, and those things that might resist becoming smooth.

More Day Than Beyonce: Procession (2016)

This is the first instalment of a new major project, exhibited for the first time at Melbourne's Gertrude Contemporary in Janurary of 2016. The title references a motivational coffee mug bearing the slogan ‘Remember you have as many hours in a day as Beyonce.’ A suggestion that we are all Beyonce, only not yet! You just have to work 24 hours a day, by drinking coffee.
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Read Rex Butler's brief essay written in response to the Gertrude install.


Meteor-rite-meteor (2015)

"Developing the logic of the work presented for discussion earlier in 2015, O’Connell presented a complex of video works, this time articulated into a disused set of science laboratories on the fourth floor of Building F, above MUMA, the same site as his Graduate Exhibition work. Including some video elements present in the earlier iteration, this work also included a short loop of footage of a meteorite fragment filmed by the artist at Monash’s electro-magnetic microscope laboratory at Clayton. The final room of the work presents a panoramic view of the suburb around Monash, the horizon line of Caulfield set against a video filmed by O’Connell: the sparks created by dragging a meteorite fragment from the back of the artist’s truck, filmed at night, creating an uncontrolled ‘drawing’ evocation of a night sky in formation."

This project tracked the passage of a single iron meteorite across 10,000 years, through distinct historical moments, from its fall in the high arctic, to its present day location in New York. Falling upon the ice shelf of what is now Greenland, the stone fractured into four major parts - Indigenous populations named these fragments 'The Tent', 'The Man', 'The Woman' and 'The Dog'. This figuring of matter into meaning was passed down as a oral history, a line of history drawn from the mouth. A second form of figuring was worn from these rocks too, as these stones served as a rare resource upon the ice, being used to make iron weapons and tools, some 400 years before terrestrial iron was brought north by Norse migration. From this fall a small fragment of meteorite was recovered and refigured, becoming a recognition of the mouth as both a site of enunciation, yet also a means of biting.

Meteor-rite-meteor (2015)

"Developing the logic of the work presented for discussion earlier in 2015, O’Connell presented a complex of video works, this time articulated into a disused set of science laboratories on the fourth floor of Building F, above MUMA, the same site as his Graduate Exhibition work. Including some video elements present in the earlier iteration, this work also included a short loop of footage of a meteorite fragment filmed by the artist at Monash’s electro-magnetic microscope laboratory at Clayton. The final room of the work presents a panoramic view of the suburb around Monash, the horizon line of Caulfield set against a video filmed by O’Connell: the sparks created by dragging a meteorite fragment from the back of the artist’s truck, filmed at night, creating an uncontrolled ‘drawing’ evocation of a night sky in formation."
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Quoted text extract by Tom Nicholson from the 2015 honours dialogue between Tom Nicholson, Jamie O'Connell and Bess Davey.




3am Eternal (2014)

3am Eternal is a nightclub that chases house music around the globe streaming live sets from a constant 3am on earth (homage to the KLF)

House music was born out of the gay rights and civil rights movements in the united states, it had a utopian energy – the idea was that those people who could dance together could live together. This work frames the global transmission of such utopianism, as present in the temporal creole of our networked world - a world in which such utopianism persists as an undertow or a counter current. In any revolutionary upheaval, some energy or rather some utopian dream takes place, they explode – and even if the actual result of a social upheaval is just commercialised everyday life – this excess energy, that is lost in the result, persists: not as reality, but as a dream, waiting to be redeemed.

3am Eternal (2014)

3am Eternal is a nightclub that chases house music around the globe streaming live sets from a constant 3am on earth (homage to the KLF)
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Can You Feel It? (In Progress)

Timezone UTC-01 - the only timezone on the globe without house music. 'Can You Feel it?' is an ocean buoy, launched in the Atlantic at UTC-01 transmitting house music - complimenting and completing the '3am Eternal' project that tracks the transmission of house music around the globe.

The '3am Eternal' project that precedes this work riffs of the 91' house anthem '3am Eternal' by the UK's 'The KLF': chasing 3am around the globe streaming live house music from a perpetual 3am on earth. House music was born out of the gay and civil rights movements in the United States, it had a utopian energy – the idea was that those people who could dance together could live together. '3am Eternal' frames the global transmission of such utopianism, as present in the temporal and cultural creole of our networked world. House music exploded globally with this utopian energy, and even if the present day result of such social upheaval is just commercialised everyday life – this energy, that is lost in the result, persists as an undertow or counter current. '3am Eternal' maps house music globally, its transmission and its energy, suspended in a constant moment; a history and a promise, waiting to be redeem.

'Can you feel it?' complements and completes the '3am Eternal' project: the content of this work is to launch a ocean buoy in the Atlantic ocean at timezone UTC-1 fitted with a pirate radio system to broadcast Larry Heard's seminal house track 'Can you feel it?'. This project will be in essence lost at sea, available only as transmission, broadcasting house music in the only timezone on earth that is yet to. 'Can you feel it?' is a phatic announcement, a beacon of the after glow of a utopian dream, reminding us of this potential.

Can You Feel It? (In Progress)

Timezone UTC-01 - the only timezone on the globe without house music. 'Can You Feel it?' is an ocean buoy, launched in the Atlantic at UTC-01 transmitting house music - complimenting and completing the '3am Eternal' project that tracks the transmission of house music around the globe.
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Elvis Lives (2013)

Monitoring every Elvis auction ending, all the time - sourced from online auction sites world wide: a constant cascade, punctuated in intervals of approximately 10 to 15 seconds. The work is loaded with 159kgs of paper: Elvis’s body weight when he died.

There is a picture up for auction the photographer calls 'Lunchtime at Sheffield, AL': the picture shows Elvis on the train platform buying lunch on his way to Memphis for his first recording sessions. 'He was buying some chicken wings or chicken legs. It’s in Alabama. It’s Lunchtime at Sheffield, Alabama. Now, once he changed trains from New York heading south, he got off at Chattanooga. And you had to take a train at Chattanooga, TN to go all the way to Memphis in those days. It took the better part of almost 10 hours to get there. So he’s ordering some chicken wings, snow cones, and some container of milk, and it’s being paid for by his gopher cousin/friend/bodyguard, Junior Smith, because Elvis was not trusted with any money; he’d lose it and forget where he put it... They only gave it to Junior Smith, and Elvis only had to be Elvis Presley.' This is the day before Elvis became famous. It bookends ‘The Elvis Story’, a system that monitors every Elvis auction ending, all the time.

Elvis Lives (2013)

Monitoring every Elvis auction ending, all the time - sourced from online auction sites world wide: a constant cascade, punctuated in intervals of approximately 10 to 15 seconds. The work is loaded with 159kgs of paper: Elvis’s body weight when he died.
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Coupled (2013)

Two enignes, no battery: the spark from one excites the other and vice versa. The engines a linked through all auxilaries: shared fluids and fate.

Jamie O'Connell (*1985) lives, works and studies in Melbourne. Currently studying a Masters of Fine Art, at Monash University, Melbourne VIC.

Artist Statement

Selected Texts:

Not a Rock anymore But a World

Honours dialogue 2015: Jamie O'Connell interviewed by Tom Nicholson and Bess Davey

Young artists enrolled in the Monash Fine Arts Honours program are each allocated an advisor or mentor, an artist/lecturer with whom they meet regularly one-to-one to discuss the development and direction of their work. In 2015 six young artists – Preyada Apiwattanatam, Bess Davey, Andrew Duong, Olivia Koh, Natasha Manners, and Jamie O’Connell – were mentored by the artist Tom Nicholson. The following pair of dialogues – the edited transcript of interviews with O'Connell by Nicholson and Davey – is one of six pairs of conversations between two of these young artists and Nicholson. Each dialogue was conducted in relation to a specific work, the first on 15 May, the second on 11 September. These transcribed conversations are an attempt to capture something of the year-long exchange between these young artists and Nicholson, as well as the connections that developed between and across the ideas of the six young artists in this group.

Download entire dialogue

Against Gravity: Jamie O'Connell

by Rex Butler

In 2014 the highly regarded but relatively obscure art historian Jonathan Crary released his 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, a zeitgeist-capturing book about the way that, in an age of the internet and labour precarity, we have lost our ability to switch off. We are now all on 24-hour call, living in a state of perpetual alert, best expressed – not only physically but poetically – by the thought that our lights are permanently on, that we are no longer able to turn them off and go to sleep. For to sleep is to be lost or to lose time, to fall behind, to drop out, to become unknown, not only to ourselves but more importantly in a world of mobile phones and twitter trendings to others as well. Not only the world but we ourselves, no matter where we live, are now permanently awake, switched on, unable to do anything but carry on the way we began, our faces held up against the light. As Crary puts it in a resonant turn of phrase: “An illuminated 24/7 world without shadows is the final capitalist mirage of post-history, of the end of otherness that is the motor of historical change”.

What more powerful an expression of this ethos of permanent illumination than that world-spanning figure of self-made success and inexhaustible energy, the American pop singer Beyonce, as embodied by the adage “You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce”, now available on – what else? – a coffee mug, precisely full of all those artificial substances that will keep you up longer, working harder, making more of yourself? The coffee cup with its lettering is reproduced as a tall stack of posters almost like a religious icon, intended to be taken away by the spectators, in Jamie O’Connell’s recent show at Gertrude Contemporary, More Day than Beyonce. Indeed, the poster can even be folded over on itself to leave just red fingernails gripping the cup, which has now become a door, looking not unlike one of those photo-collages of Russian Constructivism, reminding us that the historical avant-garde was itself always part of this productivism, this maximal use of time and resources, as though these were ends in themselves, in an “accelerationism” equally shared by Communism and capitalism.

The other work in the show is much the same – although it is much more elaborately expressed. We see in a series of large-scale photographs a group of men and women holding a motorbike up off the ground on a wooden support, almost as if it were a religious procession. But what exactly is it they are doing? What could be the point of this strange ceremonial? O’Connell is in fact enacting in a first unrealised form the utopian project of one day racing this motorbike on a runway at Svalbard, located on a Norwegian archipelago deep in the Arctic Circle and covered with almost year-round permafrost. (O’Connell has done his research and found out that Gertrude St in Fitzroy is the same length and orientation as the runway, so his worshippers were carrying the bike the same height above the road as the runway in Svalbard is deep in the ground.) It is at this attenuated latitude, apparently, that a rider on a good enough bike is able to travel at sufficient speed against the turning of the earth that they are able to remain in effect still, their shadow staying immobile under the gaze of the farway sun. It means that the earth is rushing by in a blur under the wheels of an unmoving motorbike, or put otherwise that the motorbike has to go at something like 300 mph counter-clockwise in order to remain perfectly motionless.

It is a beautiful emblem of the utter pointlessness of art, so far ahead of the rest of the world in consuming all of that energy while remaining in the same spot. But perhaps in another way art forms a kind of Archimedean point, a pivot or fulcrum around which everything turns and from where we can reflect as though in a magical bubble upon all of that relentless activity around us. And something of this utopian, restorative power of art is to be seen in another of O’Connell’s works, the first one of his I came across, which formed part of his Honours project at Monash University, in which – just as implausibly as riding a motorbike at the speed of the turning of the earth down an Arctic runway – O’Connell recovered a fragment of a meteorite that once fell to Earth during the Ice Age and that he now seeks to send back into space using one of those new commercial flights that promise to put their passengers into orbit. From meteorite to meteor – does art not trace something of the same trajectory, allowing us to float free, if only for a moment, from the weight of the world below us?

Rex Butler

Download essay as pdf

Jamie O'Connell – CV

Monash MADA: Masters of Fine Arts, 2016-17.
Gradutae of Monash MADA: Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours, 2015.
Graduate of Victorian College of the Arts: Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2014.

Awards and Residencies:

Awarded the 2016 Sainsbury Sculpture Grant (NAVA), Awarded the 2015 Bear Brass Prize, Awarded the 2014 Roger Kemp Memorial Award, as part of the Victorian College of Arts Graduate Exhibition. Awarded a position in the 2014 India Global Atelier funded by Asialink. Recipient of the 2014 Stella Dilger Award. Recipient of the 2013 Australian Centre for the Moving Arts (ACMI) Award, in addition to the 2013 Knights Street Arts Space (KSAS) Award as part of the 2013 Proud exhibition. Recipient of the 2012 George Paton Gallery Prize as part of the 2012 Proud exhibition. Recipient of 2012 Maude Glover Fleay Bursary.

Solo Exhibitions:

2016 - (Upcoming) Solo Project, Neon Parc, Melbourne, VIC.
2016 - (Upcoming) Solo Project, Chapter House Lane, Melbourne, VIC.
2016 - More Day than Beyonce, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, VIC.
2014 - The Elvis Story, Knights Street Art Space, Melbourne, VIC.
2013 - Rebuilding, George Patton Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.

Selected Group Shows:

2015 - Graduate Exhibition, Monash Fine Arts Honours, Melbourne VIC.
2015 - Bowie Is: The Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie, ACMI, Melbourne VIC.
2015 - Art After Machines: Transductions #18, ACMI - Pause Fest, Melbourne VIC.
2014 - Graduate Exhibition, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne VIC.
2014 - Majlis Travelling Scholarship Exhibition, Margret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.
2014 - Make a Monkey Out of Clay, VCA Student Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.
2013 - Dead Rubber, Collingwood Housing Estate, Melbourne, VIC.

Download CV here

contact: mail.at.jamie-oconnell.com