As an interdisciplinary artist, my practice incorporates sculpture, objects, installation, time-based performance, and handmade spectacles that memorialize obsessional lives. My work celebrates the stories of unconventional people whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids and reality television. Combining their biographical material with autobiography becomes a means to channel my own personal struggles into something comprehensible.

Marsian De Lellis, (In)/Animate Objects, 2016, Photo: Alex Griffin
Marsian De Lellis, (In)/Animate Objects, LAMAG, 2016, Photo: Alex Griffin

My work investigates contemporary forms of animism, death, sexuality, and addiction through the use of dolls, artificial figures, cutouts, pop-ups, performing objects, and wearable architecture. I invite the viewer to relate to inanimate objects as if they were alive, and contemplate the ways that objects can occupy more than one meaning at any given time.

I forge my own way between the shadows of multibillion-dollar entertainment companies in Los Angeles, where I construct my own self-contained, idiosyncratic, queer, miniature universes. I am dismantling the idea of models merely as scaled-down representations of physical space, but sites to examine abstract concepts unencumbered by their epic scope or emotional weight.

I am re-contextualizing the idea of the object and puppet-based performance art as form that occupies dimensional space, over time, in relation to the witness who changes what they are observing by their presence. Object and puppet-based performance art is well suited for grisly subject matter: heightened scenes of violence that flirt at the precipice of life and death. 

For a recent installation in which I tasked myself to mass-produce over a thousand dolls, a pop-up community of artist and non-artist collaborators formed in LA and remotely in Louisville, Brooklyn, Providence and Amsterdam. Our process appropriated aspects of quilting bees. As our hands collectively stitched irregularities, our minds contemplated the idea of identity: a repetition of a repetition for which there is no original.

I’m appealing to an overly connected world’s growing sense of isolation, providing authentic shared experiences to witness something tactile that doesn’t take place in an app. I indulge the viewer with sensational stories of outsiders made relatable through humor and insight to transform how we view eccentricities. Calling something “problematic” has become a shortcut to label something as oppressive without actually doing any work. But where some see problematic, I see problemagic: an opportunity to generate dialogue in a world demoralized by failing institutions.

We live in a time when so-called “leaders” have terrified us into tribalism, distracting and dividing us up, while scapegoating the other. I see it as my duty as a cultural worker to stay present and unite people through my practice. I am building a coalition of collaborators and viewers in L.A. through work that universalizes our need to find love, and the inevitability of loss.

I am contributing content that grows locally out of pop culture media narratives inflected with my own experiences, which feels at home in L.A.. My work reflects the strangeness of L.A., its relationship to and perception of the body, and the extremities of reality television, which is all about people seeking out love and admiration. Perhaps that’s why as eccentric as my protagonists may be, viewers have said that they are moved by and can relate to them.

I am reaching out to a core demographic of outcasts. These disenfranchised adults have been identified by filmmaker, John Waters, as “minorities who can’t even fit in with their own minorities”, but who in spite of everything still have a sense of humor.

I’m hijacking the term, “micro-influencer” – reclaiming it from advertisers and social media starlets who short-circuit our brains with a FOMO on behalf of corporations peddling products. As an artist who re-contextualizes object and puppet-based performance art, I own “micro-influencer”. I wield diminutive cardboard objects in intimate settings to activate small audiences in subtle ways with big ideas that may not immediately go viral, but are at least contagious.

I am interested in artificial figures, excess, and a kind of deconstructed visual narrative where scale, time, and vantage point shift fluidly – expressed through damaged objects that show evidence of use, frailty, and their own impermanence.  The objects I generate occupy a precarious border between beauty and terror, pushing me to further examine the fringes of our shared world.