Dust to Dust: Martin O’Brien and Sheree Rose

Event Details

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Find location, hours, and parking information for ONE Archives here.

Admission is free.

The multidisciplinary performance practice of London-based artist Martin O’Brien uses physical endurance, pain, disgust, and sexuality to challenge common representations of illness. Inspired by an unrealized concept of poet and performance artist Bob Flanagan, Dust to Dust is an intergenerational collaborative performance between O’Brien and Flanagan’s partner and performance artist Sheree Rose. Drawing on O’Brien’s month-long residency in Los Angeles working with the couple’s papers at ONE Archives, this project builds on Rose’s pioneering artistic legacy with Flanagan who, like O’Brien, suffered from Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Flanagan’s poetry, writings, and performance work powerfully grappled with disease, death, desire, and pleasure, using deft humor and masochism to explore personal kink and life with CF. Dust to Dust marks an act of resistance to and a celebration of sickness while commemorating the seminal work of Rose and Flanagan.

This performance will be followed by a conversation between O’Brien, Rose, and Amelia Jones, Robert A. Day Professor of Art and Design and Vice Dean of Critical Studies at the USC Roski School of Art and Design.

Dust to Dust includes music by David Lucien Matheke, and assistance from Toro Castaño, Sam Emery, Rafa Esparza, Michael MP Griffin, Grace Marie, Dulce Stein, and Albert Vitela.

Support for Dust to Dust is provided by the British Council and Arts Council England through the Artists International Development Fund. Additional support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Special thanks to Sarah Ruff for her assistance in organizing O’Brien’s residency at ONE Archives.


Amelia Jones is the Robert A. Day Chair in Fine Arts at the Roski School of Art and Design at University of Southern California and Vice-Dean of Critical Studies; she was previously (2010-14) Grierson Chair in Visual Culture in the Art History and Communication Studies Department at McGill University. Her recent publications include Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History (2012), co-edited with Adrian Heathfield and a single authored book Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts (2012). Her exhibition Material Traces: Time and the Gesture in Contemporary Art took place in 2013 in Montreal.

Martin O’Brien is a London-based performance artist whose work considers existence with a severe chronic illness within our contemporary situation. Martin suffers from cystic fibrosis and his practice uses physical endurance, disgust, long durations and pain based practices to address a politics of the sick queer body and examine what it means to be born with a life threatening disease, politically and philosophically. O’Brien’s work has been funded and commissioned by the Live Art Development Agency, Arts Council England, ArtsCatalyst, Midlands Art Centre, and the British Council, and he has presented in the United Kingdom, the United States, and throughout Europe. He was artist-in-residence at ]performance s p a c e[, London, where he is now an associate artist, and is currently an Artsadmin Bursary Artist. O’Brien was awarded a PhD at the University of Reading and is a visiting lecturer at several universities in the United Kingdom. He has published on his own work and on others and has been written about in several books and journals including Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability and the forthcoming Performance and the Medical Body.

Sheree Rose is a Los Angeles based artist whose films, videos, performances, and photographs have been shown at museums and galleries all over the world, including the Tate Museum of Modern Art in Liverpool, and the Jeu de Paume in Paris. Beginning in 1981 as the staff photographer for Beyond Baroque Literary Center in Venice, CA, Rose documented the growing music, literary, and art scene in Los Angeles, as well as the city’s BDSM community. Rose collaborated with her late partner, Bob Flanagan, in numerous art installations and projects including Visiting Hours, an installation presented at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1992 and the New Museum, New York in 1994.

Image (Top): Martin O’Brien and Sheree Rose’s performance Mucus Factory for Access All Areas, Rochelle School, London, 2011. Photo by Manuel Vason