I create face-to-face, live online, and prerecorded performances that defamiliarize modes of public address, including celebrity PR, internet rants, soapbox sermons, academic lectures, and public apologies. I invoke the public address to encourage playful encounters with language, gesture, and the sound of the voice as affective labor (that is, the kind of work that manufactures not objects but consumers’ feelings, thoughts, even identities). I am especially interested in the performance of authenticity in affective labor. My goal is not to expose the inherent falsity of such work; instead, my performances highlight the unresolved ambiguity of self and other, producer and consumer, and spontaneous and scripted speech while foregrounding both the bodily effort and technological mediation of trying to make people believe. Not only people, but also objects can perform affective labor (hence, my current project about the large checks held by lottery winners and representatives of charitable organizations).
Although I have a background in theatre and collaborate on theatrical productions as a creator, performer, designer, and puppeteer, most of my current work is performance art exhibited in art galleries, which afford a different temporal and spatial relationship between audience and performer. The viewer’s choices as to how long to watch my performances and how close to stand—decisions that are largely pre-determined by the seating and lighting of conventional theatre architecture, but less directed in spaces designed for experiencing visual art—are central to my work. Additionally, the long-form nature of many of my pieces (I have performed for up to 24 hours at a stretch), their lack of narrative, and their reliance on repetition encourage audiences to enter and exit at their leisure. Finally, while vocalizations are expected on theatrical stages, they are often disruptive in the white cube, allowing me to draw closer attention to the timbres and rhythms of speech as primary tools of affective labor.
While my performance art focuses on voice play and ephemeral gestures, my theatrical productions emphasize the materiality of objects and draw on my training in puppetry (University of Texas at Austin) and mask work (Dell'Arte International) as well as my work as a prop and scenic designer.