Object of Her Affection is a solo object and puppet-based performance art piece centered on a woman, who in her search for true love develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects.
Created by Marsian De Lellis, and directed by Michele Spears, this unconventional love story explores the synesthetic relationship between objects and personalities, and ways that objects can occupy more than one meaning at any given time. There will be twelve performances over three weekends from September 27th and October 13th at Automata in Los Angeles as part of Los Angeles Exchange [LAX] Festival, 6th Ed.
Object of Her Affection follows the emotional journey of protagonist, Andrea Lowe, after she has mysteriously fallen from a building. In her final 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 controversial 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.
Object of Her Affection is a visual narrative about human beings (flesh and blood) developing intimate relationships with inanimate things and the universal development and loss of relationships we encounter on our journey through life.
“The piece, which questions on a cosmic level our artificial divide between the animate and the inanimate, has the appealing, droll humor and structural unity of a David Sedaris story.” – LA Weekly
I’ve been developing the ideas behind Object of Her Affection for a while: Back in 2010 - my wheels started spinning when I stumbled upon footage of a woman who wanted to marry an amusement park ride. While her story was unusual, there was something about her authenticity and earnestness that was relatable and refreshing.
As an artist who recontextualizes objects and puppets, I’m constantly thinking about animism and the suspension of disbelief. As a queer person, object sexuality resonated with something inside me that had been festering: on the one hand sexual minorities were making historic strides. On the other it seemed like LGBT identity was being gentrified in a heteronormative push towards respectability politics.
You bet I was fascinated by the concept of object sexuality. There was something appealing about the emotional, physical, and romantic desire towards inanimate objects. It explodes traditional categorizations of sexual identity and turns our ideas about love inside out. People with object sexuality fall in love with things, rather than humans. They don’t so much want a place at the table as they might long for a relationship with one.
There have been many iterations of the material from this project in the last eight years from artist talks (Calgary’s International Festival of Animated Objects, Maryland Institute College of Art), readings and workshops (Eugene O‘Neill Theater Center, Automata, REDCAT), to an installation at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in which I created over a thousand distressed handmade rag dolls.
It’s 2018, and I’m thrilled Los Angeles Performance Practice has invited us to perform at Automata for a three-weekend run. It has been a dream of mine to have a longer run where more people can experience Object of Her Affection. I hope through wider exposure, the performance will one day be able tour. Your support will help me to create a dynamic performance that occupies a precarious border between beauty and terror as I further examine the fringes of our shared world.
We need your help!
With your help I hope to raise a minimum of $3,000 to addresses urgent, necessary artist fees and production costs crucial to the project’s completion. Your donations will ensure we can present the performance in the best possible light by completing our lighting, projection, and sound budget items. Anything raised towards our stretch goal of $10,000 will help increase production value, take some financial strain off mounting a large scale production, and put us in a better position for future runs and touring possibilities
Marsian De Lellis (writer, performer, creator) is an interdisciplinary artist who combines sculpture, objects, installation, performance and handmade spectacles to memorialize obsessional lives. Their work celebrates stories of unconventional people whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids and reality television.
Michele Spears (director) is a director/choreographer, performer, theatre producer, and arts educator. Her work has been recognized with New York Nightlife, L.A. Weekly, Saturn, UNIMA, Stagescene L.A., Dramalogue, and Santa Barbara Independent Awards, as well as American Choreographers Award and Ovation Award nominations.
Andrew Schmedake (Lighting designer) is a lighting designer for theater, dance and live events. His career has ranged from opera and ballet to cruise ships, haunted houses and immersive theater. Presently, Andrew lives in Los Angeles and lectures at UC Santa Barbara. He earned his MFA in Lighting Design from Carnegie Mellon University.
Becca Kessin (sound designer) is a sound designer working in Los Angeles and regionally since 2006. She teaches Sound Design at California State University, Fullerton, after previously teaching at Santa Monica College, Cal Poly Pomona, and the Orange County High School for the Arts. Seeing her students flourish in their chosen field brings her great joy.
Video + Photo Credits: Alex Griffin, Automata, Gina Napolitan, Bart Roccoberton, Chad Williams, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Los Angeles Performance Practice, Marsian De Lellis, Carole Kim, Rafael, Hernandez, REDCAT, Steve Gunther, Wallace Molina, William, Clip from - Strange Love: Married to the Eiffel Tower
As a thank you for your support, we’re offering a number of exciting awards! At the “FWB” ($10) level, we’ll acknowledge your alluring micro-philanthropy online + social media, so friends, family, co-workers, and foreign adversaries will all know how generous you are. Or for slightly more, at the “Discreet” ($25) level, we’ll try to be “discreet” (whatever that means) about your generosity and NOT acknowledge your allure on social media. Note: We can’t exactly guarantee foreign adversaries won’t find out how kind you are, and reserve the right to print your name in the program + websites)
Is anything ever safe? At the “Safe Word” ($50) level, we’ll send a digital pdf of the script you can read anywhere. “Safe Word” is ideal for waiting rooms or plane rides (where nosey seat mates can look over your shoulder and speculate about you). There’s also the printed “Sapio” ($69) option signed by the writer and sealed in an envelope licked with the writer’s own saliva. This hard copy is a much sought after night stand (or jury duty) conversation starter.
We know many of you want the performance to tour to your far away city, or maybe you live in L.A., but don't want to get out of bed. No worries! We’ve got you covered with the “Voyeur” ($113) reward. You’ll receive private downloadable videos from our newly edited 51-minute Automata workshop and 29-minute REDCAT performance (both 2014) and any new bonus footage as it becomes available.
Show your soft, yet aggressive side at the “Rough Trade” ($160/$169+) level, with a miniature (4”-6”), cardboard taxidermized feline head. These cruelty-free, artesanal handmade items, are the purrr-fect holiday gift that can diffuse the fiercest of vegangelical friends (or that family member with Social Justice Disorder). Every reward at the “Rough Trade” level and beyond comes with or without the plus option with tickets for Angelenos and LA visitors. Plus tickets are made available on a first-come, first-reserve basis.
At the “Situationship” ($260/$269+) level, you can adopt your very own small* (4”-6”) distressed, handmade rag doll from the “(In)/Animate Objects” collection. Situationship dolls could be a thoughtful winter solstice gift for that FWB who may be agnostic, buddhist, or in some form of bereavement. Contemplate impermanence as you watch this one of a kind art piece decay over time. The “Situationship” reward is also available with 2 tickets (for you and an emotional service human).
At the “Gainer” ($560/569+) level, you can own a large 12” tall* distressed, handmade, artist rag doll from the “(In)/Animate Objects” collection. Ruminate into the tangles of dysfunctional primitive stitchery, brooding over the ephemeral nature of life and the inevitability of death, while your doll slowly deteriorates right before your eyes. Indulge yourself in mock burials, or invest in your contemporary art collection. “Gainer” level dolls come with the option of 2 tickets. Suggested: bring an ex to the performance and bestow upon them this charming closure gift before you abandon each other.
Both “Situationship” and “Gainer” level dolls are sourced from the "(In)/Animate Objects" collection, a 2016 installation that formed the second half of a diptych with its companion, the performance, "Object of Her Affection". In the installation, years have passed since Andrea fatally fell from the crumbling tenement she was in love with. In a dark room, a mountain of decaying dolls tower to the ceiling upon which their maker, Andrea’s grandmother, presides from the throne of her wingback chair. The thousands of dolls she has amassed in sorrow testify to the insatiable need for love at the heart of the obsessional life. *Note: “Situationship” and “Gainer” level dolls are designed to be irregular, and may come burned, stained, soiled, and/or damaged with evidence of wear and tear.
I am also designing a small but sensual, limited edition, signed photo book of images and ephemera from our performances at the “Pornographer” ($360/$369+) level. A delightfully provocative conversation piece, the “Pornographer” level art book, comes with the option of 2 tickets for you and a trick.
Finally, at the “Throuple” ($960/969) level you’ll triple your pleasure with three rewards: a unique 12” “Gainer” level artist doll, a visually stimulating “Pornographer” level photo book, and a “Rough Trade” level Cardboard Taxidermy collectable... But why be a basic throuple when you could be a power throuple? With the plus 3-ticket option , you could spice up poly date night with your primary and metamour.
Risks and challenges
Presenting diminutive object performances comes with particular hurdles. It’s crucial that Object of Her Affection can be seen and heard clearly not only by presenting it in the best light to live audiences, but beyond as documentation for future presentation and touring opportunities. As far as risks go, puppets can break down, collaborators can have meltdowns, set pieces can collapse onto audiences, and onlookers could be triggered. It’s always good to have backup replicas and first aid kits. I mean no one is ever 100% safe (especially when it comes to live puppetry or theatre)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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