Kelly O'Brien

Are you there?

There was just a single moment of near contact with my father when I was 7 years old; as his hand suddenly reached through the letterbox of my mother's front door. He died 8 years after this brief encounter took place. It would not be another decade or so until I would learn of his death, from the mouth of my grandmother as we wandered through the aisles of our local supermarket. Over the proceeding years, discovering information about this abstract man proved near impossible – with family members only revealing fragments of who he might have been and what he might have been like.

In an attempt to uncover this immaterial man I began to collaborate with clairvoyants to trace an impression of my estranged father. The information gathered is translated within a visual framework where psychic drawings, automated writing, and attempts to connect with my father through mediumship are integrated. This chapter of my story explores the notion of perspective and what arises in the absence of evidence for the creation of truth. All characters involved in this search provide subjective, distinct, self-serving, and often contradictory versions of the same narrative, developing a fractured story that is constructed in co-creation with the mediums involved. The findings sit between the imaginary and the real, revealing a reimagined landscape that enables me to start to construct a sacred yet lost relationship. Resulting in a multifaceted narrative, visually reflecting the reality of the situation it aims to communicate.

The work looks upon dynamics in family relations, including hidden histories and the various ways both avoidance and the denial of death is manifested within such narratives. With this, the methodology of working with clairvoyance and photography develops an opportunity to manifest the immaterial and to utilise the photographic ability to transcribe history, allowing one to materialise and communicate what is absent and invisible. Through this process, I aim to examine a missed-relationship with my absent farther; creating mystical possibilities and fabricated memories, whilst pushing the limits of reality by exploring a world created by the clairvoyants through their ritualistic practice and divination. Although there cannot be any physical involvement between the subject of my dead father and the camera, I continue to delve into the concept that the "medium is the message" which permits me to transcend the wanting and earning to know a father I can never meet.