Installation artist O’Brien Industries works to create experiential and immersive installations that use sound, texture and space to explore issues of awareness, urban life and the irrepressibility of natural process. Often problematising binary differentiations between inner and outer, sound and noise and past and future, she infuses her enveloping, contemplative installations with a raw energy and streetwise edge, transforming stillness into motion and motion into sensation. O’Brien Industries makes art like a skater plunging balanced down a rail in a layback grind: easy, fresh and dangerous.
Born Helen O’Brien in 1978 in Galway, the artist known as O’Brien Industries earned a BA in History of Art from University College Cork in 1999 and received her M.Phil. in Theatre and Performance from Trinity College Dublin in 2001. Traditional Irish music and performance were central to O’Brien’s childhood. Her father, Dermot O’Brien, was a noted seannós singer and also performed regularly at Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, the national Irish-language theatre of Ireland. Because of these influences, O’Brien grew up learning fiddle, tin whistle, Irish-language theatre and seannós singing, but in her teens she turned away from this heritage and started playing in punk and riot grrrl bands. She continued playing guitar and bass and singing in bands throughout university, but as she went on became more and more interested in theatricality, installations, experiential art, and spectacle. Working in the collective Grúpat with artists like Ukeoirn O’Connor and Violetta Mahon has brought her around to a new appreciation of the rich potentials of her Irish cultural heritage, and she has begun to incorporate trad music, seannós singing and the Irish language into her work.
Works and installations by O’Brien Industries have been exhibited in situ in Neilstown (Dublin, Ireland), The Round Tower (Clondalkin, Ireland), the Hellfire Club (Tallaght, Ireland) and Peamount Hospital (Dublin, Ireland), and at the Galway Arts Festival (Galway, Ireland), the Temple Bar Gallery (Dublin, Ireland), the Howard Garden Gallery (Cardiff, UK), the Belltable Arts Centre (Limerick, Ireland), CART (Belfast, Northern Ireland), Kontakte (Hamburg, Germany), ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany) and the Wax Factorium (London, UK). O’Brien Industries can also been seen performing with the Dublin punk bands Pigstink, The Moskatoes and Savage Shag.
Recent installations and pieces by O’Brien Industries include Field Recordings, Nested, Aeolius Maximus, Crashnburn and Skeedmark. O’Brien Industries lives in Tallaght where she teaches at the South Dublin Rock School.