Jeff O’Brien

Jeff is a Liu Scholar and a PhD student in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia, Canada. His current research interests are threefold: the first, a question of historiography and representation, looks to the work of contemporary artists in Lebanon who construct counter-archives to make sense of the protracted 1975-1990 civil war(s) and represent the 18,000-20,000 disappeared in Beirut. How does one archive the immaterial, the absent, the inaccessible at times of crisis? the second, intertwined with the first, analyzes the mnemonic connection between the ruin, the archive and allegory in post-Nakba Palestine and Beirut today; the third is theoretical and attempts to formulate the constitution of the counter-archive through the work of German critical theorist Walter Benjamin.

His short film “Memory has enough wit to root place” (2016) was recently screened in the exhibition ‘WE’, a शब्द/ شبد (śabd)’, at the Korean Cultural Centre in New Delhi, August 2016. Recent publications include “The Taste of Sand in the Mouth: 1939 and ‘Degenerate’ Egyptian Art” in Critical Interventions 9 no.1 (2015), a co-authored entry on art critic Clement Greenberg for Oxford Bibliographies in Art History, ed. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), and a review of Gil Z. Hochberg’s “Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone” in Prefix32 (2015). He is a recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship.