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NEGATIVE PRESENCES IN SECRET SPACES: THE ART OF ERIC ORR

I am against painting and sculpture and what they stand for . . . The studio mind is better abolished. . .

I’m interested in the stuff you don’t see but it’s really there.

Eric Orr1

ERIC ORR FIRST EXHIBITED as an artist in 1964, in the student center of the University of Cincinnati. The work was a Colt .45 automatic pistol mounted on a stand at eye level for a seated person, facing a wooden chair. The hammer was in cocked position; the trigger was wired to a treadle where the right foot of a person seated in the chair might comfortably rest. Seated there, one gazed down the muzzle of the gun about two feet away.

Some viewers experienced the work as a threat, some as an invitation; no one sat there for long. But while seated in the chair one felt strangely unnerved about the intentions of the artist. He was absent, hidden behind the ice-cold gesture of this diabolical machine.

Colt 45 was an

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