San Francisco

Michael O'Malley

Southern Exposure

ONE OF LIFE'S MOST HUMBLING REVELATIONS is that we each carry our own mental landscape, our unique version of tunnel vision, wherever we go. As we move through the world, we're seeing it through the veil of our past experiences and present preoccupations. Though Michael O'Malley's recent installation “Top Heavy,” 1999–2000, may have served as a metaphor for this framing process, it also demonstrated the degree to which works of art can shape and determine our perceptions in subtle but important ways.

In Southern Exposure's expansive main space, O'Malley built a maze-like network of interconnected upside-down troughs whose inner contours, or undersides, approximately echoed the outline of a head, shoulders, and upper torso. This plaster-and-wire structure of “corridors” was supported by a matter-of-fact system of two-by-fours (similar in appearance to the framing hidden inside the walls of

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