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Swiss Institute presents Amy O’Neill HLUSA

Swiss Institute presents Amy O’Neill HLUSA on view through January 27, 2013.

Amy O’Neill, HLUSA, installation view, 2012

Amy O’Neill’s impressive and varied body of work includes drawings, installations, sculptures, and videos that reference Americana, art history, and folk art. In this exhibition, O’Neill creates a super-sized environment filled with religious and cultural symbols that explore the American penchant for monumentalism in various forms.

The exhibition’s title, HLUSA, is an initialism referencing Holy Land USA, an abandoned 18-acre theme park in Waterbury, Connecticut. The attraction is featured in a large-scale video projection in Swiss Institute’s lobby. Visitors to the exhibition can view O’Neill’s footage of the now-decaying Biblical wonderland from a raised platform that is normally used as the gallery’s office. The camera lingers over Egyptian and Israelite inspired architecture, constructed from cinderblocks and discards. Glossy silver paint, hand painted signage, and white curtains on Swiss Institute’s exterior usher visitors into this video-viewing “chapel.”

Behind an obfuscating wall in Swiss Institute’s main gallery, O’Neill’s site-specific installation emerges: nine rows of hydrocal and burlap pyramids rise up several feet from the gallery floor. The pyramids, referencing scenes from the Holy Land video, are emblazoned with shorthand referencing tweets, slang, and text-messages, recognizable yet cryptic. Language and position are combined, mummifying the currents of time.

Drawing from the visual vocabulary of holy rollers and pop-up churches, HLUSA articulates parochial America with circumspection, spurring the viewer to follow O’Neill’s lead in self-expression.

About Swiss Institute
Swiss Institute has grown from a showcase of Swiss art and artists for a mostly Swiss audience into an innovative international venue for art that provides a significant forum for cultural dialogue between Switzerland, Europe, and the United States. This unique angle fosters interaction between the Swiss and many other communities and nationalities found in New York City. The result is a distinctive view of art and a way of thinking which asks audiences to break with traditional assumptions about art and national stereotypes.

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