Artist Talk at Track 16 (Redux + Live Feed)

Whether it’s disintegrating dolls, mutant ceramic bunnies, or rescue animal pinups, the artists of Stuck Together: Marsian De Lellis, Simone Gad, Debra Broz, create playful, handmade responses to mass-produced objects and images charged with autobiographical fragments. On April 11th we gathered to discus our practices with moderator, Marcus Kuiland-Nazario. You can view our discussion through this Instagram TV redux or the entire recording of the event below.

Excerpts from the Artist Talk Redux:

Marsian De Lellis: I’m Marsian and I have the dolls in the entryway. So I have a foot in the performance art world with Growing Up Linda –  about the fictitious heir to the throne of the Carvel Cake Ice Cream empire – and there was another performance inspired by Jocelyn Wildenstein, the cat lady… 

and so then I saw this clip on the internet of this woman who was making love to  an amusement park ride and it… Yeah!

And it just made me have all sorts of questions like… Can the amusement park ride consent? Could she get tetanus? What else could happen? And so I watched  the documentary and it’s called, Married to the Eiffel Tower

There was a scene where her mom showed her Raggedy Anne doll collection – It was just like 3 seconds, but I was just fascinated by the mom and she became the grandmother in the piece. They inspired the characters for this performance called, Object of Her Affection.

But even before I made the performance I wanted to go to this puppetry conference called, Puppetry and Post-Dramatic Performance, and we could propose lectures, so I was thinking of  all these puppetry-adjacent mediums like masking (people that wear masks for sexual gratification) and furries…

Marcus Kuiland-Nazario: For what?

Marsian:  For sexual gratification.

Marcus: Thank you

Marsian: And furries andI was really interested in Object Sexuality, cause I was also interested in animism and it also seems to  touch on hoarding too. So I gave this lecture and then I wanted to make a performance and so it was inspired by this documentary.

…an Object Sexual named, Andrea who falls off a building she was in love with and then it flashes back to all of her loves – starting with a baby’s blanket a bad boy hunting rifle, the Berlin Wall (that doesn’t end so well).

Marcus: That was a beautiful, beautiful piece

Marsian: Thanks – 

Marcus: I saw it –  

Debra Broz: It was really good

Marsian: I’ll just summarize… complicated relationships with monumental public structures But then she settles for Roy, a dumpy tenement, and he’s crumbling and she’s sort of chased off by the grandma and the police. So that’s sad. Okay. Spoiler Alert

So then it was 2015 And I got the C.O.L.A. Fellowship to do a show at LAMAG in Barnsdall  (Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery) And I really wanted to explore the grandmother’s world in depth cause I had fun making the dolls with my hairdresser, Liz.

So there was  a studio visit and  I posted a handful of dolls. I had no intention of making this many at first. I posted a photo of it  and then this real life grandmother named, Sharon Challenger saw the picture of the dolls from across the country and she wanted to chip in so I mailed her patterns  and poly-fill and stuffing and gift cards pizza money… That seemed to inspire a lot of other people who wanted to help – including Debra

So we stayed in for a year, watched all of the 2015  presidential speeches and made these dolls – and somewhere along the way, I thought, this would be really cool. What would it be like if I buried some of them underground? It actually wasn’t  that severe. Then this Hollywood costume designer donated all this clean way to make things dirty – these dusts that cause cancer and stuff so I tried that and I…

Marcus: Hollywood…

Marsian Yeah.  Yeah.

Marcus: Hollywood cancer!

Marsian: And if that wasn’t cancerous enough, I put them in the oven too and…

Debra: One day I went to your house.

Marsian: Oh yeah

Debra: And you had just put bleached dolls in the oven and it was bad in there.

Marsian: I know, I should really get like an art oven or something. There was one day when there was a fire and Doll No. 13’s my favorite. It’s just a face. I don’t know what  happened to the body. There’s a couple that don’t have bodies so anyway – There was this room at LAMAG and I wanted to create the grandmother’s world and so I ended up with 1,248 dolls. And I just want to thank some of the people like Christine Papalexis, Tim Lagasse, Liz Brown, O-Lan, and there’s a lot  of people. It’s all on my website.

I made this mountain of dolls and a centerpiece of a grandmother presiding from the throne of her wingback chair. And then for the opening, I performed with them. I wore this suit  covered in dolls and I don’t know why but people thought that –  

“It‘s a robot!”

“Oh – there’s a mannequin  of somebody behind the robot.”

I could hear everything that people said and that’s when I saw you and Sheree Rose – 

I was like, “Hi!”

Simone Gad: That’s right!

Debra: No one expected a performer in your installation..

Marsian:I guess so.

Debra: ..and so everyone thought it was a robot

Marsian: Right!

Debra: No one expected there to be a performative aspect.

Marsian: Oh yeah – that was the other thing – Sorry! Like all my performances are really talky –  they use a lot of words

Marcus: Surprise!

Marsian: Yeah surprise! And I go to the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center for their Puppetry Conference. Actually, that’s where a lot of doll helpers came from too. And I took this workshop with this woman named Alice from Germany who just does movement and one of her big things was just to make dolls breathe. And so I really  just wanted to make the doll breathe – the grandmother doll. So all she did was breathe and pet the doll and like rock and people thought that it was a robot…. So….

Marcus: I have  a couple of questions for you  since this is a Q&A.

Marsian: Okay – let’s go Let’s go! Let’s do it!

Marcus: So let’s go with some questions.

Marsian: Okay…And it’s true about the anti-vaxer thing. It was a  conspiracy theory on Wikipedia.

Marcus: I believe  that you believe that.

Debra:  It’s a true conspiracy theory 

Marsian: enough to be on a Wikipedia page.

Marcus: That someone told you that I believe they told you

Marsian: It’s there

Marcus: About the dolls?

Marsian: Yeah

Marcus: The dolls are anti-vaxers?

Marsian: They’re not really, but people believed them to be. Cause they were given to somebody  in a hospital and I don’t think it went so well.

Marcus: Were the dolls carrying measles?

Marsian: I don’t really know

Marcus: in like the blankets  that we gave to the…?

Marsian:  Like The Velveteen Rabbit

Debra: Yeah

Marcus: Alright, let’s – let’s get away from  The Velveteen Rabbit…

Marsian:  Okay – Alright It’s basic – sorry

Marcus: …and the highfalutin children’s books…

Marsian: Right

Marcus: …made of velveteen and let’s bring it back  to Track 16

Marsian:  Okay… Okay. 

Marcus: Marsian and I both kind of  make work that’s public practice, but we fucking hate  that term. I hate that term. So Marsian and I talked about somebody from some organization. They gave you a note that your work needed to involve more of a social practice element, which is as trendy as fucking jeggings right now in the art world and we discussed it and I was really freaked out  about this not because I knew where the dolls… So I want you to answer where the dolls came from.

Marsian: And I have really bad self-esteem, cause I’m not an  untrained social worker artist. That’s where everything’s going now-a-days.. Not to insult anyone,but maybe at least 75%  of the people had something that could have been in the DSM-IV or V? And then this person wanted me to hook up with a mental health organization and I’m not a trained  social worker. But everyone every time they’d come over. They’d do like one stitch and then it would become all about them and their experience as a child and how traumatic that was and how creepy… and they all used the word “creepy”

Marcus: So they told them that they needed to be more involved in social practice in their art practice. yet here is this artist that was already engaged in social practice that was already doing this, that’s already been doing this and that’s kind of  one of my problems with the current art world and art lingo in a way is that they’re expecting us to fit into this weird box where we’re already doing it. Why are you?

Marsian: I wasn’t trained… I wasn’t trained as a social worker

Marcus: But you’re already doing it

Marsian However, Marcus and I both discovered that we shared this background in activism. I helped get a Queer rights law passed for high school students and we were both involved in needle exchange / ACT-UP…

Marsian: and how am I gonna put that in my bio? Does it relate to anything? And then we’re gonna sit down at some point..

Marcus: But I think that the…

Marsian: Cause the way you do everything’s the way you do anything

Marcus: Exactly. But I feel like your dolls kind of are harm reduction in a way..

Marsian: Right – Because who knows what I’d be doing if if I wasn’t making them?

Marcus: Yes!

Marsian: Yah


Full Artist Talk Live Stream

Here you can view the entire Artist Talk recording.

Thank you to everyone who showed up at Track 16 – including Sean Meredith and Caesar Delgadillo for organizing the event. And thank you to Art and Cake for including the artist talk in the Must See Art Events of The Lineup.

cover photos: Sean Meredith / Track 16, Patrick Baca