As an interdisciplinary artist, I construct installations and tactile spectacles that memorialize obsessional lives.  I collect fragments from the real or imagined biographies of unconventional people whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids and reality television.  Melding in the contours of my own struggles, I shape the highly personal into comprehensible form – narrative-driven objects that reconsider embodiment, desire, and neurodivergence.

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

Using artificial figures, I encourage viewers to relate to the inanimate as if it were alive.  I’m recontextualizing puppets and dolls as power objects.  Far from child’s play, these crude representations of humans are primal and disarming.  They at once reinforce the otherness of the complicated messy lives they represent, while enabling viewers to identify with them in ways they otherwise couldn’t.

Amidst a global manufacturing supply chain, I’m mass-producing dolls with a homespun team of crafters who appropriate aspects of quilting bees.  As our hands collectively stitch irregularities, my mind ruminates on the contagion of identity: a repetition of a repetition for which there is no original.  Instead of striving for seamless replication, our degeneration process features the flaws of fabrication. Adding simulated damage and accelerating deterioration, these soft sculptures further manifest their own impermanence and frailty.

In a moment where what was once considered “real” has become suspect, I have begun erecting models that capture the truth in the fictitious and reveal the artifice of reality. I’m tearing down the idea that models are simply miniaturized representations of physical space and building them up as transformative sites to manage weighty abstract concepts. Once scaled down, I contain the out of proportion excesses of a worrisome, dangerous world, so they can be better understood. 

video: Alex Griffin

I’m rethinking the idea of object and puppet-based performance art as deconstructed visual narrative where scale, time, and vantage point fluidly shift.  Just like the particle/wave paradox of quantum physics, puppetry is all about the duality of relationship with the witness who changes what they are observing by their very presence.

Where some see problematic, I see problemagic: an opportunity to generate dialogue in communities demoralized by failing institutions. Rather than issue trigger warnings, I serve trigger celebrations. My audiences are durable. They’re minorities who have been rejected by their own minorities, yet retain a sense of humor. Convening in close quarters, they validate the universal hopes, needs, and fears of the fringe characters I’ve invested in, by choosing to believe they’re alive for a few moments. 

In a world that invisibilizes people like me, I’ve reverse engineered my experience. Although I’m ever-present on stage, I distract viewers with story, visuals, and ideas, to effectively disappear. I’ve reclaimed the term, “micro-influencer” from advertisers who hijack our brains with a FOMO on behalf of corporations. Wielding diminutive cardboard objects in intimate settings, I  tickle small groups with big ideas that may not yet be viral, but are highly transmissible. 

The objects and performances I generate occupy a precarious border between beauty and terror, pushing me to further examine the fissures of our shared existence.