Tag Archives: Objects

Artist Spotlight: Michella Perera

Sri Lankan born Irish artist Michella Perera explores the edgy co-dependent relationship between the fictional representation of a culture and the tourist industry. Under the radiant traditional garments and embroideries lie the fetishization and mystification of oriental tourism in Western ideology. The fascination of “the exotic” generates the mythical portrayal within their understandings and preconception. The resulting image and objects that signify the culture become icons in which the original context and historical value are reduced. She stated that the phenomenon ironically juxtaposes the belief of cultural tourism: to acquire knowledge and appreciation of another country through traveling. Tourism is however based on the attraction of the mystified and the fetishized, and highly depends on it. The bewitched process is thus inescapable.

Michella Perera is intrigued by the absurdity within touristic behaviour. “I am interested in shrines,” she says, referencing the particular space where we place items which we have collected from our vacations. The arrangements of her made objects, as if displayed on a shrine, are in flamboyant colours. “There is this expected vibrancy of tourism…. People expected to see colours, but also they tend to dress ‘on-holiday’ with all the colours on them.” In addition, she pointed out the “I’ve been there, I know” attitude, while much knowledge is in fact a generalization or built from preconception. “I got a lot of people saying ‘Namaste’ to me. I don’t speak Hindi, I learn Sinhalese.”

Born in Sri Lanka and having moved to Ireland at the age of ten, she is also on the quest of self-discovery through tourism and binary cultural discomfiture. Confrontations with the sense of in-and-out not only appear in geographical context but also in her own cultural identity. Her appearance is distinctively different from those in Ireland, and at Sri Lanka her posture is clearly one of the tourists. “In Sri Lanka, I don’t particularly read Sinhalese well, so then I have this feeling that you are drawn in and spat back out at the same time.”

Her practice is then “a resolution without a resolution” for this complex sensation. Michella has been in search for the materiality of the language, through learning the origin of letters and understanding it physically. She explained the Latin alphabets are angular due to its origin from stone carving; whereas the medium of Sinhalese was dried leaves. The strokes flow along with the hair of the leaves, ending in letters without angles. She started to make the letters out of clay and carving them into plaster. “It’s just spending time with the letters that I don’t necessarily understand, in the hope that maybe I can understand them more sculpturally, more materially.”

Her work has a strong sense of bodily interconnection. In addition to her exercise in letters, which she playfully refers it as “to physically understand something linguistic without understanding it linguistically,” she works on embroideries and body positions in papier-mâché. The art work is not only a practice for her to comprehend the in-and-out sense, but it also encourages viewers to relate to them through their body, instead of through identification and naming.

Written bu Huai-ya Lin

See Michella’s work in the upcoming exhibitions


Saturday 17 August 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig


Friday 20 September
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Isabelle Kuzio

“I’ve got seven fly swatters, if you need one.” Isabelle allows herself to take part in buying as a form of research, an ironic response to her concerns in consumer culture and economic theory. Other things which occupy Izzy’s studio space: slime, croc shoes, glittery rubber cockroaches, a bicycle helmet, a collection of shiny fabrics and other apparently misplaced items. Each day as she enters the studio with her industrial sized bag over her shoulder, I am curious to discover which playful objects are gathered inside. Perhaps an unintentional performance in itself.

Collecting is a part of the process. Izzy’s archive of objects has been gathered over time, some of them new shiny objects bought here in Leipzig, others having travelled with her from Edmonton, Canada – her home town. When she buys an object, she is often not sure what they will become.

“Sometimes I have an object for years before it becomes a part of my art” explains Izzy.

Though, after a month of gathering items in her studio at Pilotenkueche, Izzy had founded a pattern of function in some of the objects. Each were an extension of the body. Objects to be worn, carried, held, used by the self. This realisation brought Izzy back to the question; How do we consume, wear and own objects with the desire to be perceived in a certain way?

all photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

“KUNST BRINGT ERKENNTIS – ERIK ERKENNT.” Erik, a six year old boy, is overwhelmed by Izzy’s installation in the Unfinished Hase vernissage. A humorously oversized charm bracelet, placed on 2×2 metre satin cushion: the room’s assertive kiss of kitsch. After experimenting with painting some of her gathered objects silver, Izzy was reminded of jewellery. Jewellery is something precious which we wear with the hope to be admired and desired.

In particular – charm bracelets. They, themselves, a symbol of Izzy’s practice of collection. “Charm bracelets are really personal as you chose what’s on them, but you only have the cliché symbols to chose from.” But her charms do not fit that of the cliché symbols. Izzy’z charms are playfully recreated from her miscellaneous items; a flipper rebranded with a heel and diamante embellishment, a sponge hulk hand with a glamorous manicure holding a smart phone, a personified croc shoe, wearing braces.

It is evident in her surreal creations that Izzy is inspired by sci-fi movies of the 70’s with her irreverent hints to a dystopian future. She speaks of the acceleration of technology, and how it has changed our relationship to everyday objects whilst allowing us to secure our humanic positions in the world.

Technology has enabled us to be more stable when it comes to fighting the unexpected wraths of nature, but when everything is made available to us with new technologies, do humans become a resource: Human capital, in which we become defined by what we provide. And maybe the most extreme form of accelerationism – a world in which humans have become obsolete.

All of the above being ideas that loom over me, as I leave my conversation with Izzy. When asked if she has any ideas of what she will create for Fast Kotzen, her next group exhibition at Pilotenkueche, Izzy explains that she will continue to explore the term Self-objectification. “I wanna do some crazy special FX make up,” she claims. Maybe a zombie, maybe a Bratz Doll. She wishes to take the focus away from her collected objects, and instead shine a light on how we self-aestheticize ourselves to become the object.

Written by Ciara Brown


Come and see Izzy’s works in the following shows:

Unfinished Hase

Open:  16 – 23.02.19, 13 – 17h
Finissage: 23.02.19 19h
Alte Handelsschule, Gießerstraße 75, 04229 Leipzig, Germany

Fast Kotzen 

Vernissage:  23.03.19, 19h
Open:  24 – 27.03.19 17h-20h
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany