As an artist and storyteller, my images, text, performance, and collective engagement investigate the mediated spaces where identity is constructed. Using a framework of “the search” and “research,” I explore where performance and life intersect, and the discoveries made possible in real-life performative moments. I use storytelling as a device and a point of clear access, which I then aim to break apart and reassemble. How do we recognize wisdom or “truth” when we remain alienated, fragmented and disconnected from our own histories?

 

In order to find resonance with the universal, I begin with the personal. My subjects (obsessions) are people who appear to hold a key to self-understanding. I start with a personal prompt, enlisting free-association and play as tools that create points of entry: a déjà vu experience in the Czech Republic leads to the discovery of a lost relative; a survival experience for my salesman father leads to a brief comeback as a spokesperson for a revolutionary product; a beloved TV character begins making appearances in present-day, inspiring collective pie-eating rituals. I just returned from a nine-month journey in Poland, researching, sharing, and following the life of a woman, Paulina, whose 74-year-old Holocaust testimony came into my possession by chance.

 

My work may manifest in the form of an email, a seminar discussion, or an appearance on the street, as much as in a gallery or theater setting. Aesthetically, visuals and sounds—original or found and alteredare rendered with a homemade style, using overlays and forced juxtapositions to elicit a sense of both the uncanny and of existing outside of time. Seeking direct connections, I aim to disarm audiences and build trust, using sincere delivery, and humor whenever possible. I deliver work “in-process” as myself, establishing a relatable intimacy, vulnerability, and human state of incompleteness. Allowing myself to be changed by the events that transpire, and providing space for the audience to project themselves onto and connect with my journey, each story continues to unfold in life and art until it reaches some resolution or moment of natural rest.

© 2020 by Michelle Levy

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