As an interdisciplinary artist and writer who constructs installations and time-based visual narratives that memorialize obsessional lives, I draw inspiration from offbeat characters whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids and reality television. In my practice, I combine dolls, artificial figures, performing objects, and elaborate costumes to investigate contemporary forms of animism, death, sexuality, and addiction. I am fascinated by the negotiation of personal identity – a repetition of a repetition for which there is no original – in an ever-shifting landscape of technologies that can drastically alter and re-map the body.

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

(In)/Animate Objects, my installation for the 2016 C.O.L.A. Fellowship Exhibition focused on the excesses of a doll hoarder, including 1,261 handmade rag dolls in various forms of decay. In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, I constructed a storefront operating theatre at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, where I performed cosmetic procedures on one of America’s most beloved dolls.

Currently I am fine-tuning Object of Her Affection, a performance centered on a woman who develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects, which was a recipient of a Jim Henson Foundation Project Grant. I have also begun writing for my next body of work, Model Killer, in which a disgruntled dollhouse-maker -turned-investigator constructs models of unsolved crimes only for it to be revealed that she is in fact the perpetrator. I presented an initial section in progress of Model Killer as an artist in residence at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

I am just scratching the surface in my formal and thematic approach toward damage – experimenting with new distressing techniques: elaborate dye baths, chemical corrosion, decomposition, and exposure to heat. The dolls and objects I generate straddle a precarious border between beauty and terror, pushing me to further examine the fringes of our shared world.