Liz Lessner Artist’s Statement
My objects and installations use sensory perception to reframe interpersonal interactions. They combine traditional sculpture materials with embedded electronics to create multi-sensory experiences that are sometimes interactive. These works stems from a framing of resonant gestures that ritualize and familiarize psychological narratives and personal memories. These objects consider social feedback loops, popular narratives of desire, as well as mythology and nostalgia and the fetishism that both imply. They explore negotiations of power and status, authenticity and performance, and preconscious affinities and desires through forms that unsettle and attract.
The work in Call & Response, a sculptural installation with sound elements, a kinetic interactive sculpture, an immersive scent and light object, and several interstitial castings, along with light-works derived from these castings, mimic and sometimes manipulate viewers’ body language by evoking gestural interactions between bodies.
A Block and Tackle of Lures, Reels, and Rods is a sculptural installation with sound elements that explores the relationship between the experience and performance of emotion, as well as how culture mediates between the two. This work draws viewers into its proscenium like space with the seductive tones of a woman’s voice. Seven life-cast mouths, arranged around the inside of the sculpture, invite the viewer to put their ear to the lips of the casts to better hear the woman’s seductions. The mouth castings capture a moment of speech. They take turns relaying a five channel soundscape about the language of love as presented in pop-culture movies. This back and forth creates a call and response effect with the audio as well as the viewer’s personal and cultural memories associated with this language.
A Fine and Private Place is an interactive kinetic sculpture made of steel and epoxy. Viewers are invited to enter and exit the sculpture. They may entrust their entrapment and release to a partner via the crank mechanism. The conical ribcage like form is lined in fluorescent epoxy casts of the mouths from the sculpture A Block and Tackle of Lures, Reels, and Rods. The title references a line from Andrew Marvel’s poem, To His Coy Mistress:
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Stills are five interstitial castings. These objects are the negative space between two people engaged in iconic gestures like air-kissing, or pushing one another. Stills include:
A crowded place, we stood thigh to thigh
We were talking- side by side
Traces of friendly fire
Calves meet under the table
As breezy as an airkiss
Coercions are three interstitial castings of people engaged in intimate gestures of persuasion. Suggest and Persuade are the interstitial space of one person’s hand on the small of another’s back. Strong-arm is the interstitial space between two people as one grabs the other’s hand and pulls.
Caesar Shift I, II, & III are two dimensional translations of the forms created by the Interstitial Castings in Stills and Coercions. The light elements reference the medieval use of halos of light along with specific gestures to emphasize important narrative elements. The title, Caesar Shift, refers to a particular form of cipher as these shapes also reference hieroglyphics and the process of encoding and translating that reading other’s gestural communication requires.
This body of work represents and mimics the call and response nature of gestures of negotiation and desire. By repeating and reframing iconic gestures these works find new ways of representing and experiencing the ephemeral psychological and spatial dynamics of interacting with others. They seduce through materials and form, prompt consideration through user experience and sensorial awareness, and create, as Nigel Thrift says, ‘new and more productive entanglements’ by activating sticky and paradoxical spaces of negotiation and intimacy.