Move over Teen Vogue and Tiger Beat! A team of crackshot junior sleuth investigative journalists over at High School Insider (LA Times) recently got their hands on me and they didn’t let up on all the tough questions!
Read the interview here.
They also made this cool 360 degree video of my installation (In)/Animate Objects!
On June 8th, I performed Raggedy Ann to Real Doll at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions with Chris Sheets as part of Irrational Exhibits 9, curated by Deborah Oliver 💉
How do we negotiate our idea of personal identity in an ever-shifting landscape of technologies that can drastically alter and re-map the body?
In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, I dissect what is just beneath the surface of our collective preoccupation for physical perfection.
Transforming the storefront window of LACE into an operating theatre, I performed experimental cosmetic procedures, encouraging viewers to interact with one of America’s most beloved dolls as she went under the knife.
How do we negotiate our idea of personal identity in an ever-shifting landscape of technologies that can drastically alter and re-map the body? In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, I will dissect what is just beneath the surface of Southern California body culture and our collective preoccupation with physical perfection. Transforming the storefront window of LACE into an operating theatre, I will perform experimental cosmetic procedures. Viewers are encouraged to use protective binoculars and decontamination footies as one of America’s most beloved dolls goes under the knife.
Performed with Chris Sheets, this one night only medical event will be part of Irrational Exhibits 9: Reports From the Field, an installation and durational performance event curated by Deborah Oliver with 17 other artists from Los Angeles. IE9 also includes the work of Claudia Bucher, Ryan Bulis and Brian Black, Kent Anderson Butler, Monica Duncan and Samantha Mohr, Kristina Faragher, Janice Gomez, Flora Kao, Curt LeMieux, Juan Meneses, Thinh Nguyen, Liz Nurenberg, Nancy Popp, Bradford Chan Prairie, Lara Salmon, and Liz Young.
The 16 new works presented in this performative exhibition are centered on the artist’s observations of the changing landscape of place and location. The questions these artists are reflecting on via their “reports from the field” explore how we identify and understand the shifting landscape, whether it’s social, political or personal. How do we participate in these shifts as they arise and stay connected to each other?
Tickets available at door – $10 General, $8 Students/Seniors w/ ID
LACE is located at 6522 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028 – In Hollywood, that’s just east of Highland and west of Cahuenga (cross street Wilcox). Parking is available for $7 in the lot behind the building, accessible from the west side of Wilcox. For details, visit welcometolace.org or call (323) 957-1777.
The following is a recording of my June 4th Artist Talk at LAMAG with Allison de Fren where we discussed the handmade bodies that populate my work, and the obsessions they animate.
On June 4th at 2PM at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, I will be in conversation with Allison de Fren on the handmade bodies that populate my work, my obsessions the animate.
Allison penned an essay on my installation, (In)/Animate Objects for the COLA catalog. Our discussion of silicone love dolls was published in Puppetry International. At the same event, COLA artist Megan Geckler will also speak about her colorful pieces in the show.
Prior to our talk, at 1PM, I will be at LAMAG to activate the installation.
LAMAG is located is located at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90027. Admission and parking are free.
Gallery hours are Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 5:00PM. COLA16 runs through July 3rd. For general information, visit lamag.org or call 323.644.6269.
According to Artillery Magazine, my installation, (In)/Animate Objects is both “creepy” and “particularly unsettling”! Don’t just take their word for it, see for yourself at LAMAG Thursdays-Sundays 12-5PM through July 3rd. And if you do want to just take their word for it, read more about #COLA16 in GO BIG OR GO HOME: COLA 2016, by Beverly Western.
The 2016 C.O.L.A. Individual Artist Fellowships Exhibition opens this Sunday, May 15th 2-5PM . I am pleased to have been selected along with 11 other amazing artists for this exhibition. (Read more here)
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) is located is located at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90027.
Following the opening, the exhibition will run through July 3rd. LAMAG is open Thursdays through Sundays, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. For general information, please call 323.644.6269 or visit lamag.org.
For this exhibition I will premiere a new installation (In)/Animate Objects which includes 1,261 dolls created with over 60 people . I will be activating the installation during the opening May 15th from 2-5PM and again on June 4th at 1PM (1 hour prior to my 2PM artist talk).
from the COLA catalog:
Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed,” claimed the cult filmmaker John Waters. I imagine he would find a kindred spirit in the visual and performance artist Marsian De Lellis, whose handmade spectacles memorialize obsessional lives. Drawing inspiration from the offbeat characters whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids, talk shows, and reality television, De Lellis’s creations are the hybrid offspring of fact and fiction, his productions equal parts art, performance, and object lesson on polymorphous perversity.
As you may recall from Psych 101, Freud believed that polymorphous perversity is our libidinal state of origin. (1) Children attempt to derive erotic pleasure in whatever form it is available, through every object possible, and in every conceivable direction. As we move into adulthood, our promiscuous relationship with the world of things is relinquished through social pressure and repression, the cultural reinforcement of morality, shame, and disgust. There are those, however, who get derailed on the journey to normative adult relationships. While they are often the target of passing gapes and psychological rubbernecking, De Lellis erects a roadside attraction for them at the crossroads between object performance and performance art (a terrain he has dubbed “puppetry adjacent”). By utilizing dolls, puppets, costumes, masks, craft supplies, and everything else at his disposal to embroider the details of displaced obsession and desire, he draws out their “problemagic” capacities for troubling subjecthood, gender, and identity.
(In)/Animate Objects is the second half of a diptych on the relational world of De Lellis’s fictional protagonist Andrea Lowe, an “objectum sexual” (a real psychological phenomenon in which a person develops romantic and sexual feelings for inanimate objects). Its companion piece, Object of Her Affection, is a solo puppetry performance that charts Andrea’s relationship history, from losing her virginity to a hunting rifle as an adolescent, to successive heartbreaks with a series of landmark statues, buildings, and bridges, until a final fatal encounter with a crumbling urban tenement. (2) Puppets and props shift scale throughout the performance, exteriorizing Andrea’s emotional vicissitudes, while De Lellis takes up multiple positions, at points serving simultaneously as narrator, character, and set piece. (In a feat of remarkable multidexterity, he manipulates both an Andrea puppet and her female nemesis Marcy while dressed as the Golden Gate Bridge.) Such polymorphic conversions are a playful invitation to childhood regression, a primal call to suspend the distinctions between subject and object, animate and inanimate, and self and other.
The stand-alone installation for the 2016 C.O.L.A. exhibition offers viewers a window into Andrea’s psychic and relational world through an encounter with the obsessions of her doll-hoarding grandmother. More than a thousand rag dolls in various states of disrepair—each individually handcrafted and distressed by the artist and an extended network of friends and family—testify to the insatiable need for love at the heart of the obsessional life. Like all De Lellis’s productions, (In)/Animate Objects employs artificial excess in the service of a camp sensibility that inspires ambivalence between identification and abjection. It also exemplifies Susan Sontag’s assertion that camp, for all its droll irony, “relishes, rather than judges,” performing “a kind of love, love for human nature. (3)
—Allison De Fren
1. See Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, trans. James Strachey (London: Imago, 1949).
2. Presented at Automata and REDCAT as part of the 2014 New Original Works Festival.
3. Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp'” (1964), in Against Interpretation, and Other Essays (New York: Picador, 2001), 291.
This week I am unpacking and installing 1,261 dolls at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) as part of a new installation, (In)/Animate Objects, for the 2016 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship Exhibition. The exhibition runs May 15-July 3rd, 2016. I will be at the opening to activate the installation on May 15th from 2-5PM, and in discussion with Alison de Fren on June 4th at 2PM.
I wish to thank my extended network of friends and family who donated time and resources to help make the 1,261 dolls in (In)Animate Objects possible. Over 60 people helped in Los Angeles, Connecticut, Brooklyn, Providence, Boston, and as far away as Amsterdam, including: Adrian Rose Leonard, Aimee Rousey, Ajax Stevens Hulce, Alicia Louise Wells, Alissa Hunnicutt, Allison de Fren, Amanda Faith Maddock, Amy Rush, Anne Clendening, Ariel Brickman, Automata, Ben Durocher, Broome Street General Store, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, Cheryl Revkin, Chris Sheets, Christine Papalexis, Dayna Mondello, Debra Broz, Devra Golden, Dolores De Lellis, Donna De Lellis, Eric Brightwell, Georgette Perantoni, Henry Watkins, Janie Geiser, Jenny Brown, Jean Marie Keevins, Jen Dohn Watkins, Jessie Anna Martinez-Wilton, Kate Katz, Kelly Hargraves, Kristin Charney, Lisa G. French, Liz Hara, Liz Brown, Liz Watson, Leah Olbrich, The Los Angeles High School of the Arts, Luca Dalzell, Matilda Dohn Watkins, Martin Nepton, Mia Dalzell, Morgan Rebane, Maria Cristina Jimenez, Michele Dunn, O-Lan Jones, Pam Arciero, Peggy Maltby Etra, Peter Ceili, PJ McWhiskers, Renata De Lellis, Ronald De Lellis, Sarah Oh, Sharon Challenger, Simone C. Williams, Spencer Lott, Stephan Counts, Taylor Bibat, Tifanny Hope, Tina Koneazny, Tim Lagasse, Tony Agostinelli, Una Zipagan, velvet leigh, Wyatt Gray, Yoko Kanayama, LAMAG staff, and the good people of Los Angeles.
LAMAG is located at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Please join me for the opening of Art Bern – a Bernie Sanders Portrait Show, on Saturday, November 14th from 7PM-10PM at Future Studio Gallery in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, where I will be displaying a new painting, Bernie Sanders is Finger Lickin’ Good.
Can’t make it to the opening?
Work will be on view through December 6th by appointment.
Live out of the area, but want this piece?
Contact Future Studio Gallery at (323) 254-4565 or by emailing gallery director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
25% of the proceeds will benefit the Bernie Sanders campaign.
About the piece:
Bernie Sanders is Finger Lickin’ Good, Marsian De Lellis, $225, 2015
6”x6”x1½”, acrylic, nail polish, graphite, and ink on wood panel
I am concerned that no one in the Democratic field has the sex appeal necessary to be elected president in 2016. The current media landscape has become infected with a Kardashian Effect where celebrity and reality show behavior trump substance in the ratings grab. Sure Bernie Sanders’ social and economic justice policies are sexy, but I worry that the whole “Feel the Bern” hashtag popular with his supporters sounds like a slogan for chlamydia or at least a UTI – and that burning (Berning) connotes more of a destructive force. I am taking a different approach with Bernie Sanders is Finger Lickin’ Good and I hope America is ready to consume what Sanders is serving.
About the Exhibition:
ART BERN: Bernie Sanders Portrait Show
A Group Show by Artists Supporting Bernie Sanders
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 14th, 2015 (from 7:00PM to 10:00PM)
On view by appointment to December 6th
Future Studio Gallery
5558 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles CA 90042 (Highland Park)
Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy has ignited enthusiastic interest and support from the creative Los Angeles community. This art exhibit, organized by renowned artist Margaret Garcia with Future Studio Gallery, features nearly 3 dozen visual artists working in media from oil paint to wood sculpture to nail polish art to crop art to multiples—all work has been created especially for this exhibit.
Participating Artists: Abel Alejandre, David G. Brown, Dolores Carlos, Art Carrillo, Sandra Cornejo, Carol Colin, Margarita Cuaron, Marsian De Lellis, Stan Edmondson, Beth Elliott, Margaret Garcia, Frannie Garretson, Robert Guillen, Amy Inouye , Waynna Kato, Krystine Kryttre, Bonnie Lambert, Tod Lychkoff, Brian Mallman, Barry Markowitz, Sybil McMiller, Cathi Milligan, Elisa Padilla, Christine Papalexis, Joseph Peterson, Ester Petschar, Joe Potts, Carla Rajnus, Stuart Rapeport, Tom Recchion, Chris Sheets, Suzanne Siegel, Herbert Siguenza, Albert Vitella, and J. Michael Walker.
Work is reasonably priced from $10 (original art tshirts by Joe Potts), with most art priced at $100 to $300. Gallery commissions and a portion or all of artists’ proceeds will benefit Bernie 2016.
Future Studio Gallery is an artist-run studio/gallery that is also known as the home of Chicken Boy, the Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles, a 22-foot tall roadside L.A. fiberglass icon who is installed atop the roof. The gallery has been participating in NELA (North East Los Angeles) Art Second Gallery Night since its inception in 2006. It has become known as a community art space where old friends meet and new friends are welcome; where always-interesting art can be seen, and intelligent conversation can be had. It also houses the Chicken Boy Souvenir Shop, which carries Los Angeles-centric, vintage, and pop culture merchandise. A gallery shop will be created featuring an Art Bern section for continuing sales.
Why Puppetry? Musings of a Solo Puppet Artist originally published on #HowlRound
This week on HowlRound, we take a look at the many faces of American puppetry. Once again enjoying a resurgence in pop culture, puppet art’s impact on our nation’s culture is deeper than most would think. This series will take a look at the art form through the eyes of some of its most innovative and stalwart thinkers. Find the full series here.
So I’ve been asked to write for Puppetry Week because as you may have guessed, I am a puppet artist. There. I said it and it’s not even our third date. But what exactly is a puppet artist? And why puppetry? I can only speak for myself.
In my practice, I use performing objects, cutouts, pop-ups, and elaborate costumes to create a time-based visual narrative form. Inspired by tabloids, reality shows, unsung fetishes, and pop culture, I create performances about unusual people whose stories I hope to make relatable through humor. I have found that puppets and performing objects have a disarming, primal power to suggest something quite simple and profound.
I believe that the purpose of theatrical elements is to serve the story. Puppetry is but one element of a larger picture that includes scenery, sound, narrative, and audience. It is no more or no less important. Puppetry has metaphorical potential too. The format not only helps to tell a story, but can also become the story.
What do I mean by that? When I approach a new piece, I question whether a puppet is even necessary, or if the story could be better realized with actors. After I decide to use puppets, I mull over which styles of puppetry to select and their associative implications.
Marionettes and well-manipulated tabletop puppets could be metaphors for control from the effects of outside forces. Shadow puppets hint at flashbacks, liminal states, dreams, and hallucinations. Live feed evokes surveillance, simultaneity, multiple perspectives, and the cinematic. Pop-ups might be suited to a story that unfolds. Toy theatre can illustrate abstract concepts like capitalism, or the immune system, and epic stories taking place over time and locations. Hand puppets could callback childhood memories. Personally, I admire puppetry that is self-aware and redefines its own form.
Puppets are optimal, because you don’t have to pay them and they can’t really talk back to you. The top one percent may own 99 percent of the resources, but you can make a cast of thousands on a dime and still be austerity-chic.
I create one-person shows, because, let’s be honest, the idea of managing a robust cast of actors just stresses me out. One-person shows are enough for me to handle. Theatre is collaborative and it takes an entire team of assorted personalities to make that magic happen. Plus, I enjoy the challenge of voicing each character and having my hand in generating a consistent aesthetic specific to me.
There are several formats of puppetry I have employed to further storytelling. For example, I repurposed plastic bags made from petrochemicals into the materials for an oil slick bird puppet in an earlier piece about the BP oil spill. When I worked on Bride of Wildenstein—The Musical, I tried tackling the form-as-content idea with masks and found ways to transform my body to symbolize the central character’s addiction to plastic surgery. In another piece with a dancing spider, I used visible string in a web-like configuration for the puppet’s controls.
In my latest piece, Object of Her Affection, a woman develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects in her search for true love. As I examine the duality of objects as (in)/animate—animate in the eyes of the protagonist, while inanimate to the rest of the world—I am experimenting with the roles of onstage objects. A bridge may start as a set piece only to merge with my body as wearable architecture, transforming into a character. As I manipulate the puppet protagonist, I am simultaneously a bridge cradling her in my arms during an awkward break-up, and a witness to her heartbreak.
My practice also incorporates visual art, storytelling, film, and is deeply informed by my early figurative work constructing dolls. My current work builds upon an exploration of artificial figures and excess through narratives exposing the universal need to find love. Because this need to connect is so complicated, my protagonists are driven to extreme measures in their quests to connect with people or things that do not reciprocate their love.
As I push against stereotypes of puppetry as a performance practice, I am investigating my visibility as puppeteer. I’m also shifting my position inside and outside the story through a multiplicity of roles, including participant, manipulator, character, witness, and facilitator. Puppetry affords me powerful opportunities to progress in my skill level as a writer, performer, designer, and producer as I become more adept at creating work that articulates my own idiosyncratic and developing agenda.
But back to that pesky question: Why puppetry? And why now in the midst of mass extinction and social injustice? Why is puppetry relevant when there are battles over wedding cakes and whether Black lives really matter to everyone? Can cardboard and papier-mâché really save this fucked up world?
In the age of social media, people have become overly connected, but there is a growing sense of isolation. Live puppetry appeals to our need for the tactile and it doesn’t take place in an app, or on a touch screen. Puppetry brings people together for a shared experience to witness the artist in an intimate setting oozing raw creativity into a universe they have made with their own hands.
Puppetry might not be the answer to all the world’s problems, but if you can’t find peace in yourself, how will you find peace in the world? At least that’s what I’m going with today.
Originally published on HowlRound