Performances

While I construct visual narratives and installations that memorialize obsessional lives, I draw inspiration from offbeat characters whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids and reality television. My subjects are often other people, but their struggles are highly personal.  In my performances, 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.

Model Killer: Tiny Crimes and Tiny Coverups
2017-present

Model Killer: Giant Crimes & Tiny Cover-Ups is a morbid comedy centered on a disgruntled dollhouse maker turned investigator. Vivian Nutt builds dioramas of unsolved murders, only for it to be revealed that she is in fact, a serial killer.  In Model Killer, I am creating a universe in which I invite the viewer to reconsider female serial killers, the historically feminine craft of miniatures, and murder as entertainment. I recently developed the first couple of scenes as an artist-in-residence at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

Object of Her Affection
2012-present

Object of Her Affection is a solo puppetry and object performance art piece centered on a woman, who in her search for true love develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects.  In this unconventional love story, puppets and performing objects are a primary through-line, as I explore the synesthetic relationship between objects and personalities.  Object of Her Affection follows the emotional journey of protagonist, Andrea Lowe, after she has mysteriously fallen from a building. In her last moments, she reflects on her meaningful relationships starting with her first love, a baby’s blanket. As an adolescent, she loses her virginity to a bad-boy hunting rifle and subsequently becomes infatuated with a misunderstood wall.  As Andrea evolves, so do her desires. In adulthood, she forms doomed relationships with monumental structures: a high-profile statue, tragic twin skyscrapers, and a bridge who cheats. Each of these relationships has a profound effect, shaping Andrea’s views on life and love. Finally, she finds solace in Roy, a crumbling tenement who ultimately fails her.

Raggedy Ann To Real Doll
2016-2017

In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll I constructed a storefront operating theater at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions as one of America’s most beloved dolls went under the knife. Projected video and the remote voyeurism from a live Stream provided multiple onsite and virtual opportunities for spectatorship – with the possibility to experience the installation from the gallery sidelines, externally through the windows, or directly engage in the surgery.

(In)/Animate Objects 2016

A mountain of decaying dolls towers to the ceiling upon which their maker, the grandmother, presides from the throne of her wingback chair.  (In)/Animate Objects my installation for the COLA Fellowship Exhibition focused on the excesses of a doll hoarding grandmother in the form of over a thousands of handmade, distressed rag dolls. (In)/Animate Objects was the second half of a diptych. Its companion, Object of Her Affection, was a puppetry performance about a woman who in her search for love develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects. The performance charted Andrea Lowe’s life of heartbreak from the loss of her baby blanket to doomed romances with monumental structures. Whether it was nature or nurture that made Andrea an object sexual, she happened to be raised by someone who also shared a complicated relationship with things – her grandmother. Years have passed since Andrea fatally fell from Roy, a crumbling tenement, she was in love with. In sorrow, her grandmother has amassed more dolls than she can possibly care for.

 

Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical
2009-2010

Have you ever gone too far for love? In Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical, an aging socialite grows fur and claws to recapture the attention of her philandering game hunter husband. Described as “demented, touching, and inherently strange” by Flavorpill, Bride of Wildenstein is a weird and tragic love story that examines the making of a monstrosity through one woman’s personal struggle, and the loss of her sense of self. As her marriage dissolves, she begins to reinvent herself through drastic measures – surgical procedures to become more feline, which only heighten her sense of estrangement. The heroine’s story is loosely inspired by tabloid accounts of the real-life “cat woman”, Jocelyn Wildenstein.

Growing Up Linda 2004-2011

Growing Up Linda was an ensemble actor-puppetry performance in which the daughter of a famous ice cream mogul must come to terms with her troubled past.  During its run at the Edinburgh Fringe, The Scotsman distinguished Growing Up Linda as “colorful, elaborate” and“nightmarish”. Three Weeks (Edinburgh) characterized Linda as “kitsch, camp, and often grotesque”, and celebrated it for itsfusion of trashy and glam”.

Other Performances

PuppetSlamOct (34v2 of 58)-ed-full The Feeder NPC
Marsian De Lellis, The Feeder, 2016, Photo: Sean Patrick Higgins

The Feeder
2015-2016

The Feeder was a short solo tabletop puppetry piece that explored the unintended consequences of a complicated relationship when the surviving partner of a gainer and feeder couple is on the run after accidentally feeding his spouse to death.

Dear R.
2014

In Dear R.,  an eccentric artist reflects upon a letter of remorse and a relationship that was harder to let go of than they initially thought. “The Internet slows down, as it often does at three A.M., when oddly, there just happens to be the least amount of traffic. But slowly line-by-line from top to bottom, in dial-up porn fashion, your mug shot reveals itself rather dramatically, I might add. There you are. “alone, feared, and misunderstood”. Diminutive – not the larger-than-life way I remember you – eyes glassed over, gazing into the camera like a deer caught in the headlights”

Ham In A Wig
2013

Sung as Elton John to the tune of Candles in the Wind,  Ham In A Wig focused on the self-inflicted demise of Paula Deen who was in the news for using racially derogatory language.

Web Of Mystery
2011

In Web of Mystery,  I danced with a spider before being overtaken by it.

Dawn of the Apocalypse
2010

In Dawn of The Apocalypse I transformed into an anthropomorphized oil spill for song that was my personal response to the Deepwater Horizon spill. An iconic image of an oil soaked bird from the Gulf of Mexico served as the impetus for  the lyrics and images. The dress I wore and the oil-soaked bird were constructed from garbage bag material   – ubiquitous at landfills  and a material that is derived from oil.

Rango Tango
2006

Rango Tango was a short marionette performance that explored movement and rhythm with an orangutan puppet.

The Adventures Of Michael Jackson
& The Animals Of Neverland Ranch
2004-2005

The Adventures of Michael Jackson and the Animals of Neverland Ranch was a table-top, short-form puppetry piece that focused on the reclusive pop-star’s whimsical abuse of animals in his private zoo amidst uncomfortable relationships with children.  In the proscenium of an over-sized storybook, I  animated photographic cut outs extracted from the paparazzi and tabloids. I adapted Neverland Ranch from a section of Michael Jackson Was My Lover, a questionably sourced, pulp, tell-all about the King of Pop’s relationship with a teenager written by former Hard Copy reporter, Victor M. Guitierrez. Guitierrez was successfully sued by Jackson for slander after his book’s publication. In making Neverland Ranch, I examined the construction of and incongruities between the private and public lives of celebrities, the sensationalization of crime to sell news stories, slash fiction, and the role of gossip manipulation in public relations, especially when it backfires.

 

2001, ©Marsian De Lellis
2001, ©Marsian De Lellis

Puppet Runway 2000-2002

Puppet Runway was a fashion runway consisting of animal-human hybrids, and genetically modified creatures with designer genitalia.

 

Mutation
2002

Mutation was my short-lived post-apocalyptic fashion label that I modeled at the Dirt Palace, a Feminist art space located in an abandoned library and presented at The Arcade in Providence, RI.

Feast of Fun, flyer, 1998

Apocalypse
1998

For Apocalypse, I choreographed and performed in an ensemble movement piece inspired by William S. Burroughs’s Apocalypse at Big Chicks in Chicago, as part of Feast of Fools Cabaret.

Toy Factory
1998

Toy Factory was a collaboration with Kathleen “Snatchleen” O’Shea where we appeared as appeared as Twinkie and Star – the Giovanni sisters at Medusa’s, The Mission, a club night in Elgin, IL.

Date Rape, Chicago, 1997

Date Rape:
The American Classic

1998

Date Rape: The American Classic, was an ensemble performance created with Kathleen O’Shea in which extra-terrestrials abduct K-mart shoppers to create a hybrid species, the new breed.

Spin the Bottle
1998

Spin The Bottle was a photo booth / performance installation I created with Kathleen O’Shea  (in our alter egos as Twinkie and Star – the Giovanni sisters) as part of Day of Beauty and Ritual. Day of Beauty + Ritual was a performance art circus celebrating spring as a time of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation, which we curated with Kokoe Johnson at Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago. Day of Beauty featured a collection of performances, installations, and unique beauty treatments by Radical Faeries climaxing with a Spring Equinox Ritual created by Sache.

Heavy Petting
1997

In Heavy Petting – The Holiday Classic Tail, twin sisters, Twinkie and Star Giovanni recounted their run in with a petting zoo at an alien controlled compound. For the performance, collaborator, Kathleen O’Shea used found slides to construct the narrative.

Marsian Kathleen O'Shea, and Nett E. Brenner, Chicago, 1997

Feet
1997

For Feet, collaborator, Kathleen O’Shea and I explored the idea of service, beautification, and the aesthetic and heightened spectacle of pseudo-medical treatments. We invited gallery patrons to relax on our reclining chair. They were blindfolded, while we enacted sensory treatments to their feet including an array of foot scrubs and a variety of other tactile stimulation.  Feet was part of a larger context of alternative spa treatments created by Radical Faeries at Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago.

King of Pop's New Clothes, 1997

King of Pop’s New Clothes 1997

In King of Pop’s New Clothes, a reclusive pops star’s drug-fueled attempts at being loved through personal reinvention go horribly wrong when his public and private lives collide. For The King of Pop’s New Clothes, I was interested in the cosmology of celebrities’ storylines and how they are constructed through our collective myth-making and America’s blood lust for knocking down public figures from the very pedestals we once elevated them to.

Wig Show (a collaboration w/ Fausto Ferños), Gallery 2, Chicago 1997

Silver Room 1997

The Silver Room was a performance-installation I created for Fausto Ferños’ Wig Show, at Gallery 2 in Chicago, in which I created a silver room-sized environment. Stationed on an alter, I became a metallic deity, modeling one of Ferños’ handmade aluminum foil wigs as I serenaded viewers, blowing bubbles and lighting sparklers over their heads.

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