Heather M. O'Brien - Takahashi is an artist, filmmaker, and Assistant Professor of Film/Video, Photography, & Interdisciplinary Media at Southern Illinois University. Her work builds encounters with familial archives, constructs of nationhood and the illusion of accurate memory. Research interests include expanded cinema and psychoanalysis, essay and experimental film, decoloniality, installation, alternative photographic histories, third cinema, gender studies, and queer theory.
O’Brien’s recent projects include With a face of golden pleasure, elegantly destroy, a film about water politics and poetics in Beirut, Lebanon, Opia (with Jonathan Takahashi), a researched-based collaboration rooted in the family archive that reveals the inaccuracies of visual representation and, and like the delayed rays of a star, a photographic monograph and multimedia installation that questions the misplaced anxieties of what it means to grow up in a post-9/11 image landscape, to live and work in Lebanon during the revolution and economic collapse of 2019, and give birth to one's first child in Beirut on August 4th—the same day as the catastrophic 2020 Beirut explosion.
Her work has been exhibited and presented internationally at venues such as the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA Los Angeles, The Middle Eastern Studies Association Conference, San Francisco Camerawork, The University Art Galleries at UC Irvine, Sursock Museum Beirut, The Society for Photographic Education Conference, KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin, The International Center of Photography NY, Beirut Art Center, The Modern Language Association Conference, Baxter St. at The Camera Club of NY, The Western Political Science Association Conference, The Photographic Center Northwest, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The International Conference of Photography & Theory in Cyprus, and Parsons/The New School NY.
She has received grants from The Mellon Foundation, The European Commission ERASMUS+, The American University of Beirut Research Board, California State University Long Beach, and the Feminist Center for Creative Work Los Angeles.
O’Brien has been awarded residencies with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Santa Fe Art Institute, Marble House Project, Women’s Studio Workshop, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, Sommerakademie Paul Klee Bern, Switzerland, Bemis Center, The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning NY, and The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Her projects and writing have been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, X-TRA Journal of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Conveyor Magazine, Hyperallergic, Humble Arts Foundation, Evergreen Review, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Past teaching experience includes The American University of Beirut, Lebanon, Bern University of the Arts, Switzerland, The University of the Aegean, Greece, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, California State University, Long Beach, Citrus College, CA, and Moorpark College, CA.
O'Brien received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, a BA from Loyola University New Orleans, and a Director's Fellowship from the Creative Practices Program at the International Center of Photography New York.
heathermobrien (at) gmail (dot) com
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