30 years of O’Finn Videos

Donald O’Finn

Donald O’Finn’s work represents television as both medium and message, and his choice of conscious and subconscious cultural significance. He has said he considers his video art more akin to poetry and painting, than to film or TV.

His videos have been exhibited both nationally and internationally, screened at various film festivals and cult venues throughout the U.S. and Europe. Notably his work has been shown at the Hirshhorn Museum of Art in Washington D.C., at the Lincoln Center NYC and at the Anthology Film Archives NYC (performing with the multi-media audio-visual collective known as Rev 99).

Donald O’Finn is a co-owner at Freddy’s Bar and Backroom in Brooklyn NY where his work shows on multiple monitors, 365 – noon ’til 4am.

Donald O'Finn & Video Stills. Tremaine Gallery. Hotchkiss

Remix, Reshoot, Research” Tremaine Gallery, at the Hotchkiss School. >> Lakeville, Connecticut. 2016.

Donald in Star Revue

Quotes and Links

NEW!  Review by 99 Hooker

Appropriating media from disparate samples, O’Finn “re-purposes, re-contextualizes, effects, alters, and weaves his constructions” into “the dreams a Television might have.” O’Finn’s poetic power reveals what lurks beneath glib, ridiculous and shoddy media – the same old subconscious terrors and desires which have bedeviled people for centuries. More than 100 years of visual indifference and excess have yet to banish the chthonic forces which previous civilizations sought to engage through myth. And O’Finn is the man to recover such – not as a theoretical psychologist, but as a practicing shaman cutting up media to fashion a/v voodoo dolls. Within B-movies, exploitation, adverts and other cheap thrills O’Finn recovers human suffering, fear, anxiety, malfunctioning, oh, and profound humor – the stuff audiences and producers imagined they didn’t want, didn’t need – we who still dream of shebots partners, shameless indulgences and guilt free spectating. O’Finn knows better….

Read Full Article

Leo kuelbs Collection: Repurposed Video. Z. Berlin, Germany

“Donald O’Finn is the type of artist who enjoys sifting through the discarded piles of low-end pop culture on which the modern American psyche is founded. Like a bargain hunter at a thrift store, Mr. O’Finn isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty picking through the sketchy boxes of discarded pop culture on which the modern American psyche is founded. O’Finn can identify and excavate the bits that have yet to reach their half-lives. Potentially dangerous moments, sewn together into a patchwork mirror that reflects the past decades of America’s perversions, obsessions, and fears.

When the viewer Experiences his “Repurposed Video” work, he finds himself lurking in the American subconscious, guided by O’Finn’s deft editing and sense of humor. Without the guide, we could easily get lost in that black and white world of almost forgotten images, sounds, perspectives.

It is also worth noting that Mr. O’Finn is the proprietor of Freddys Bar, in Brooklyn, NY. Freddys was listed by Esquire as one of the best bars in America and Mr. O’Finn himself was rated one of the 10 Best Bartenders in NYC by MetroMix Mag. His videos pulsate wildly on screens placed around the bar while clients clutch their drinks in an orchestrated chaos that, in my mind’s eye, looks a lot like the work itself. It looks a lot like small patches of the American subconscious.”~ Leo Kuelbs.
Read Full Article

Selected Series. Mass College of Art

“Average art viewers would be completely lost on Donald O’Finn’s videos. It’s a lot easier for a culture embedded in glamour to fall in love with a relatively complex cinematic experience filled with icons rather than to be seduced by the lone single channel image of a guy selling a Flowbie…O’Finn gives an image of seduction as easily as he retracts it with a fat reduction infomercial or a cheeseburger.

O’Finn, living like a post apocalyptic caveman…is like a madman watching and cheering at the collapse of the media machine.“ Madeleine Gallagher – Curator and professor, Mass College of Art.
Read Full Article


“All his work is developed in the field of creation in video and television, providing a very personal aesthetic, with superimposed images, choppy and dizzying, usually extracted from other people’s productions that deals with risk. The sound of video art works by Donald O’Finn helps to deepen the strong sensations of the visual.”{translated from the original Spanish}~Collective for the Renewal of Art History Studies.

“This American is not a newcomer to the world of video creation since his first experiences date back to the 80s. Since then he has been doing a broad work but with a very defined line over time.

Donald O’Finn is an artist who has television as a permanent visual reference. It is what we could define as a “television native”. In this sense, it is the manipulation of images taken from old series, documentaries or other types of programs, which helps him to create new pieces.”{translated from the original Spanish}~Collective for the Renewal of Art History Studies.
Read Full Article

The Tavern. New York City

“In Episode 1, Donald discusses the repurposed video constructions he has been making and screening at his bar since the days of Betamax.”
Read Full Article

“In Episode 2, manager Donald O’Finn explains how his business was shuttered by a coalition of land developers and the government.”
Read Full Article

DNA Info

New York City “O’Finn takes snippets harvested from old TV shows, ads, movies, and other sources and edits them together into short films. He describes the pieces as the dreams an old TV would have.”~Leslie Albrecht.
Read Full Article

Underground Video Art

“an ongoing collage of clips from various films, the pacing of which is simply mesmerizing. I was originally attracted by the videos because of their use of innumerable clips from obscure b-movies. I found myself trying to name the movie, or find some kind of reference so that I could somehow get my hands on it. After watching these videos a number of times, I began to notice a some thematic patterns for these collages. They were not meaningless montages (is there such a thing?) but rather narrative sequences that tell a series of compelling stories. In short, brilliantly imaginative stuff!”~Reverand.
Read Full Article

36 Hours in NYC

“a never ending series of VHS tapes featuring the most tripped out and intelligent re-cuts of movie clips, commercials, and various other resources you can imagine. I have wrote about these masterpieces already here, and seeing them again just re-affirms just how amazing this artist is on so many mashed up levels. His work provides a superb example of the mashup as de-contextualizing the medium from the message in order to re-contextualize a mindful imagination.”~Reverand.
Read Full Article

Star Wars Modern

Barclays Center is Just Another Death Star and Donald O’Finn is Lando’s Fish Taco Side Kick. “He is a hidden master. His video Dancing on the Ceiling is as good as anything I’ve seen in New York. O’Finn bartends at Feddy’s, but he is also a first caliber video artist – the only artist who presence I missed in PS1’s awesome 100 Years survey.” “Donald O’Finn is a Jedi.

There is nothing slick about O’Finn’s videos. He started out making them using two VHS recorders (or at least that’s what I remember, he is always serving me too much beer when we talk). He has upgraded since then, but his stuff all looks very DIY. He combines old commercials, porn, black and white musical numbers crap monster movies, on and on.

O’Finn is a latter-day Situationist (AND a Jedi). His aesthetic of video collage is paranoid, which is to say, in them, everything is connected. Visually they are a rabbit hole akin to a conspiracy theory (JFK to Anne Truitt). O’Finn’s videos are a product of city life akin to Guy Debord’s collage of postage stamps, engraved soldiers and map fragments. But for O’Finn the ingredients are Children’s TV, Burlesque, 1930’s musicals, and 1970 commercials; what he produces are 4D psychogeographique. O’Finn’s videos are a celebrations of the congestion and confusion of city life…”~John Powers.
Read Full Article

Jump Cuts

Donald O’Finn Interview. “Bruce Conner is, of course a influence, but painting, TV, and my own visceral instincts are my main influences. I actually sort of think of my self as an “Out Sider” artist, existing outside of mainstream Art influences. The videos are far closer to painting or poetry than to film.”~Donald O’Finn Interview quote.
Read Full Article

Read Full Article

” One of today’s masters of appropriation, Donald O’Finn”~99-Hooker. Press Quote .

Donald O’Finn. 1hour and 25 minute Interview by Mike Cobb.
Read Full Article

Village Voice – BEST Of/2001-2008

“Donald O’Finn’s feverishly edited encyclopedically strange video collages…” Old Village Voice links are no-longer available.

NYC Tourist Board:

“the mesmerizing “TV Dreams,” a never-ending project of co-owner Donald O’Finn’s genius repurposing of found footage.”~ Patrick Hipp.
Read Full Article

Curbed New York Film Review

Five Favorite Moments From Battle for Brooklyn:
#1 Freddy’s Bar co-owner Donald O’Finn being a badass.
byBilal Kahn.
Read Full Article

Altlantic Yards Report

Review of the compelling new documentary Film Freddy’s:

“…a hub of wonderful people, musicians and lovely weirdos,” director Vicente Rodriguez Ortega observes.”

“The bearded, leonine O’Finn, a video artist, with his television work and “weirdo art” decorating the bar, gets credit for the bar’s appearance and for living the “artist’s lifestyle” to the hilt, consuming alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes, all “kind of done to extreme.”

“To video producer Steve deSeve, O’Finn uses film as paint, as raw material. “I view this (Very public as well as Legal Battle over eminent Domain abuse) as a battle between Donald O’Finn and Bruce Ratner,” deSeve says, segueing into the final part of the film. “A guy who’s so pure… I see you, I take you, I make you into art… versus, like Bruce Ratner (Controversial Real estate developer), I see you, I take you, I make you into money in my pocket.”

As the film closes, O’Finn reflects on the “sort of odd funhouse” of the bar. “It’s a visual experience, as well as an auditory one. I just think it’s a really unique place. It’s a piece of art. I always sort of thought of it as like a social art chunk, a little public experiment.” He starts to choke up slightly. “I don’t know. It’s a great place, though.” – And the film then fades. On Wednesday, when O’Finn said the awkward phrase “social art chunk,” that got a lot of laughs from the audience, so some of the poignancy was lost.”~Norman Oder.
Read Full Article

Episode 13: Interview with Donald O’Finn

“A brilliant artist, who’s surreal video montages illuminate the inner space of the bar and the brain…”~ Mike Cobb.
Read Full Article

GOTHAMIST: Best 5 Barkeeps in New York City. Donald O’Finn

“O’Finn, who curates a rotating series of artists in the side room/performance space, drew the bar’s brilliant Heimlich maneuver poster, which depicts Bluto inexplicably saving Popeye from choking. He also created the impressive dragon that keeps watch over the bar, and made damn sure the original bathroom graffiti was preserved. Behind the bar, a video of a cat drinking milk plays on an endless loop. “Nobody out-drinks the cat,” says O’Finn with a sly grin.”~John Del Signore
Read Full Article

Donald in Numbers


1987- BFA San Francisco Art Institute
1989 – MFA San Francisco Art Institute

Selected Exhibitions and Screenings

2019 Screening. The Lodge. Chester, NY
2019 Art Slope Screenings. Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
2018 – Reanimatrix- Rev 99, Other Cinema.
San Francisco, Ca.
2014 – 2018 Screening Footage with Muti media Art Group rev.99
2011 – 2018 Window & building exterior screening,
Brooklyn, NY.
2016 “Remix, Reshoot, Research” Tremaine Gallery, Hotchkiss. Lakeville, Connecticut
2016 Screenings, Art Slope Festival.
Park Slope Brklyn, NY.
2013 Screening and Lecture. Revisionaries: O’Finn – Re-Mixalot. Art Center Capital Region
Troy, NY
2012 ComVideo, Apexart,
2011-Busan International Film Featival, Bandee
Busan, Korea.
2011- GLOW: Donald O’Finn’s “Repurposed Video” Visions. Z-Bar.
Berlin, Germany.
2010-PI Festival. National Museum of Art.
Szczecin, Poland.
2010-Portuguese Cine-theatre Zero-Film. Traveling Art project
throughout Portugal.
2009-Manipulated image. The Complex Science and Art.
Santa Fe, New Mexico.
2009-18 Dokument Art. 18 Festival.
Szczecin, Poland.
2008-Luminous Flux. Galapagos Art Space.
Brooklyn, N.Y.
2008-Botanica Exhibition Space. Red Hook,
Brooklyn, N.Y.
2007-Media Show. Hangar 1018.
2006-Improvised Media rev. 99. Monkey Town
Williamsburg, N.Y.
2005-Cosmic. (rev.99)* The Hirshhorn Museum of Art.
Wa, DC.
2005-Improvised History. (rev.99)* Anthology Film rchives,
2005-Performance. (rev.99)* Bowery Ballroom.
2005 – Reanimatrix- Rev 99, Other Cinema.
San Francisco, Ca.
2005-Performance. (rev.99)* Anthology Film Archives.
2005-Special Screenings. Brklyn Underground Film Festival.
Brklyn, N.Y.
2004-Selected series. The Mass College of Art.
Boston, MA.
2004-Performance. (rev.99)*Anthology Film Archives.
2003-Up in Arms. Parkers Box Art Gallery.
Brklyn, N.Y.
2001-Screening. Galapagos Art Space.
Brklyn, N.Y.
1998-Gallery Artist’s Exhibition. Alan Stone Gallery.
1996-Gallery Artist’s Exhibition. Alan Stone Gallery.
1994-Gallery Artist’s Exhibition. Alan Stone Gallery.
1991-Gallery Artist’s Exhibition. Alan Stone Gallery
1991-Gallery Artist’s Exhibition. Foster Goldstrom Gallery.
1990-Solo Show. Foster Goldstrom Gallery.
1988-Gallery Artist’s Exhibition. Art Rental, MOMA.

Solo Exhibitions

2008-Projections. Botanica.
Brklyn, NY.
2005-Retrospective. Gorilla Space.
Brklyn, NY.
1990-Big Figure.
Foster Goldstrom Gallery.
Joseph Chowning Gallery.
San Francisco, CA.
* performing with the multi media audio-visual art collective known as rev.99.

Contact Donald