Alison O'Daniel in conversation with Tanya Zimbardo at McEvoy Arts, San Francisco (July 21, 2019). Photo: Pat Mazzera

Alison O'Daniel in conversation with Tanya Zimbardo at McEvoy Arts, San Francisco (July 21, 2019). Photo: Pat Mazzera

McEvoy Arts Picks

McEvoy Arts Picks: Alison O’Daniel

Visual artist and filmmaker Alison O’Daniel highlights Lonnie Halley, Pedro Costa, and more in the latest installment of McEvoy Arts Picks.

McEvoy Arts Picks brings you a curated selection of what to listen to, read, watch, and do while at home, selected by our staff and networks of artists, curators, and partners. For more at-home activities with McEvoy Arts, click here.

Three short films from Alison O’Daniel’s ever-expanding media project The Tuba Thieves (2013–) were guest curated by Tanya Zimbardo in conjunction with the 2019 exhibition What is an edition, anyway?. Since the exhibition, O’Daniel has joined the faculty of the California College of the Arts and received the 2019 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. In this edition of McEvoy Arts Picks, the visual artist and filmmaker shares movies and music she has enjoyed while sheltering in place as well as some reflections on the culture industry during COVID-19.

Jan de Bont, 1994

This 1994 movie is bringing me joy. Watching this group of unsuspecting bus riders go through so much trauma in one day feels sort of quaint right now during this global pandemic.  I love watching films that took place pre-cell phones – I find it very soothing to watch people be disconnected and therefore more connected, not documenting, just living their fantastical, high action, dramatic lives. Also, I’ve been thinking through strategies for keeping an audience completely engaged from the minute a film starts to the minute it ends and watching something so over the top helps me brainstorm strategies for my quiet, slow, arty films.

The Films of Pedro Costa

The cinematography and lighting is heartbreakingly beautiful. The hybrid approach of documentary and fiction in his films is beautifully composed. And all of the actors are so tender and brutal. I’m afraid of them, afraid for them, and I love them.

The Music of Lonnie Holly

A friend introduced me to his music last year and I’m in love. His music holds so many emotions. It calms me and breaks me at the same time and I need to listen to something that lets me feel the devastation and despair while also soothing me.

McEvoy Arts: What’s been most striking to you about the impact this moment is having on the making, presentation, and consumption of culture? How do you see it evolving in the weeks, months, and years to come?

Alison O’Daniel: I’ve had a somewhat side-eye skeptical view of the cultural response to fill everything up with video and media work. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve loved being able to watch some things that were previously inaccessible, but I’ve also questioned the impulse to fill a void or be entrepreneurial. I think it is time to pause and reflect. I realize, like many people, that stopping feels healthy and necessary and attuned to the devastation that is happening right now. We have a collective opportunity to hold capitalism to the fire and honor what many people are experiencing first hand and the rest of us know is coming closer everyday. I don’t buy into the collective complaints about boredom. Now is the time to explore the value of slowing and to restructure and reimagine our values and our lives. I don’t mean to sound soap-boxy, but I’m crossing my fingers for more reflection and less reflexive responses.

Alison O’Daniel is a visual artist and filmmaker working across sound, narrative, sculpture, installation and performance. Her work has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Centro Centro, Madrid, Spain; Renaissance Society, Chicago; and Centre d’art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest, France. Her film, The Tuba Thieves, has received support from Ford Foundation JustFilms; Creative Capital; Sundance; IFP; Points North; Field of Vision; and Chicken and Egg. She is a recipient of the SFFILM Rainin Grant for Filmmakers with Disabilities, a 2019 Louis Comfort Tiffany award and has received grants from Art Matters; the Rema Hort Mann Foundation; Center for Cultural Innovation; the California Community Foundation; and Franklin Furnace Fund. She was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and writing on O’Daniel’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; Artforum; The Los Angeles Times; BOMB; and ArtReview. She is represented by Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles and is an Assistant Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.