The OHne and OHnly 3
SaveMe Oh is often caricatured as a cynical lover of the glib and shallow. But I find astonishing depth in her The Ohne And Ohnly exhibition In preparation of this exhibition I watched some of her movies on VIMEO where SaveMe Oh squirms in front of the camera in a way that painfully and poignantly reveals how young she is. Placed in front of an unmoving, unblinking camera she acts like a 14-year-old ordered by her father to pose for a family photo. She fidgets, she can‘t keep still for a second, she won‘t look you in the eye. The performance is unmistakably adolescent. It seems the camera act as an implacable authority figure whose requests she cannot refuse, merely subvert. Compared to oher artists it is the would-be rebel SaveMe Oh who is the most disturbing and amusing to watch. And now this exhibition, undoubtely her best work, closest to the severe dignity of her older portraits. The youthful and vulnerable image that appear all around sometimes is there and then vanish, the face slowly dissolving in a burst of light, as if the atombomb had just been dropped. This ghostly effect could not more explicitly make us think of mortality - or as a fragile defence against it. Secondlife specialises in immortality, but SaveMe Oh‘s use of her image is more material. It’s like you feel the texture itself. There is a science-fiction quality to her image, as if was part of some vast project to catch every face in the world. SaveMe Oh is still sometimes caricatured as a cynic, a lover of the glib and shallow, by both critics and fans but her attempt to record every face in hers is hardly superficial. And it’s not easy to watch. Accustomed to action on the screen, we are irritated to be confronted by her head that simply stare back at us. SaveMe Oh challenges us to be bored. But if we are bored, what are we bored by? The effort of looking at another person for a few minutes? Because that is what SaveMe Oh gives us the opportunity to do. A face becomes a play of light and shadow, and not mere-
ly an arbitrary one. SaveMe Oh does not just point her camera or light the scene casually or unfeelingly. She uses a bright, close light in a way that creates particular dramas of shadow in her portrait. This is her emotional contribution to the metaverse, and it is as expressive as the different intensities in her buildings. In this image, a band of darkness runs down the centre of her furrowed face; you cannot help seeing it as a crack that lets us glimpse SaveMe Oh‘s troubled spirit. That might sound a little mystical, but if the image tell us one thing, it is that SaveMe Oh is mystic. The spirituality of SaveMe Oh has been gradually emerging into the light ever since her Dutch Salvation Church, Benvolio, in 2009, when it was revealed that the artist was a devout, practising Cheesus lover. Since then there have been more revelations. As in an Oscar Wilde story, the carefully contrived mask of callousness that SaveMe Oh wore has been exposed as a fraud, behind which lay shameful excesses of emotion and belief. Now, in the recent part of her career her major preoccupation was with religious art, culminating in his final series of pics, The Holy Nude. (Still to see in the SaveMe Oh Foundation). SaveMe Oh is the most dramatic example of an artist misunderstood and slighted in the 2008 but now, in 2009, loved and valued. Is there any artist of the past 50 years whose place in history now looks as certain as SaveMe Oh‘s? SaveMe Oh is, as everyone knows, the first artist to recognise the nature of the media age in which we live, and how it would remake human nature. Even if her art were to be forgotten, her pronouncements on celebrity would survive as folklore. It‘s her remorseless, searching eye that never stops watching, never gets bored, and never looks away. The face that it considers - at once harshly and with endless patience - can look back or pretend that it‘s not there, but it won‘t go away. In the shadows, as in the gloom of a church, there is no mistaking what her image represents. She invites us to look at our fellow human beings as if we were God, if we can bear to. At the
The Ohne And Ohnly exhibition, some walk out, annoyed, bored. If you stay, you can judge SaveMe Ohâ€˜s subject harshly or kindly, laugh at it or love it. Mostly you study and, as you watch, cool down. You do not judge, after all, but become aware of the endurance of looking, and the tenderness of allowing yourself to be looked at.
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