Eric O’Connell holds a Master’s Degree in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California (2010) and has been a professional freelance photographer since 1990. He has been exhibited and published internationally. He has held positions as a photojournalist in Atlanta, an intern at Outside magazine, and as an assistant/apprentice to a commercial photographer. Since 1995, he is running his own business as a successful magazine and commercial photographer. He has been an assistant teacher, at the graduate level, at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City. Outside of academia and his professional career, he has taught and performed Argentine Tango, and is a drummer who has recorded two albums with a folk group in New York City.
His work is interested in adoption and adaption of cultural change, which can be reflected in people, in architecture and in the created landscape. Currently Eric is incorporating digital video along with photography, taking advantage of opportunities utilizing new media in his projects.
He has just completed (2010) a two-part ethnographic documentary on a subculture of people residing in the former East Germany. Entitled Cowboys: East Germany, Rebels of the Vogtland, this work reflects his passion in visual media and his interests in the field of anthropological inquiry.
My current work is about identity shifting, adoption of different cultures and the transformation of place and space as a created narrative of a culture. I’m particularly interested in the geographical area of Eastern Europe from the former East Germany to the Caucasian mountains, and how this area is changing with the ever-encroaching experiments of capitalism, and the changing boarders of the recently formed EU.
The Cowboy project, which was started in 2002 as a personal portrait project, later became the subject of my master’s degree research. Photos from it were exhibited at the Gallerie für Zeitgenoscheses Kunst (Gallery of Modern Art) in Leipzig, Germany (2006), and the resulting film has been shown at academic institutions in America, and has been accepted at the Serbian Ethnographic film festival in Belgrade (2011).
Currently Eric is working on a sensory biographical project about the events surrounding 9/11. Using photos from his near-death experience that day in lower Manhattan, and sounds which he has memory of from that day, he is designing an installation and a video piece, which will deal with memory and the phenomenology of experience. A print of St. Nicolas Church, which was destroyed in 9/11 with the collapse of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, along with two other church’s of historical interest in Manhattan, hang in Nicosia, Cyprus as part of the program Art in Embassies. In January 2011, he will begin working on a new ethnographical documentary film about the Fasnacht Festival in Southern Bavaria, Germany.
Eric O'Connell, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (built 1832; consecrated 1922), New York City, minutes before the collapse of 2 World Trade Center, September 11, 2001, Photograph, Overall: 18 1/2 x 13in. (47 x 33cm) image; Overall: 31 3/4 x 26 1/2in. (80.6 x 67.3cm) framed, Courtesy of the artist, Brooklyn, New York