Dermot O’Brien – Substance and Accident

This exhibition is curated By  Michael Petry showcasing O’Brien’s work which often takes the form of the transformation of everyday objects into something new, wonderful and often magic in their simplicity and perfection of workmanship.  Aristotle proposed the idea of substance and accident where an accident is something that has no connection to the essence of the thing described.


SUBSTANCE: what does not exist in another and not said of another

ACCIDENT: what exists in and is said of another


Thomas Aquinas developed the idea to incorporate parts of the catholic mass. The romans believe that in their rites, bread and wine are transformed into the actual blood and body of their Christ in an orgy of cannibalism. The accidents (the actual bread and wine, which is consumed) do not change, but their substance is said to.


In pottery, the notion of the accident is also almost a blessed event. Glazes come into their own inside the kiln and their final state is never known until the door is opened and the cooled pot emerges a swan or a lame duck.  


O’Brien alludes to religious readings as well as his art historical ones, contrasting Duchampian tropes with belief systems that do not necessarily have the scope for change or the incorporation of the new, much less the accidents of time. O’Brien acts as the medieval alchemist in an attempt to transform base objects into something of value, corrugated iron becomes a shelter set alight by wit as well as electricity, or a machine for the production of sound (very loud sound at that) becomes muffled, muted, neutered by flocking, yet transformed into something that now speaks a very different language, and just as loudly but as visual noise.


MOCA will show Untitled (Kit) 1998, which has never been publicly exhibited in London. The work consists of a full sized 5 Piece Drum Kit, completely covered in grey flocking. He will also present a selection of his original working notebooks, which are selected from over a 20 year period.

Exhibition Also @ Payne Shurvell

16 Hewett London ec2a3nn


Duration 13 January 2011 - 13 February 2011
Times Thurs-Sat 2:00-600
Cost Free
Venue MOCA (London)
Address 113 Bellenden Road London SE15 4QY, ,
Contact 02000114115 / /

Related Events

Artic Biennale
Open Source Salon with Hauser and Wirth - A new monthly discussion group
Advertise your next show on Artlyst from £200 per week