Tris Vonna-Michell (Southend-On-Sea, Great Britain,1982) lives and works in Stockholm.
Tris Vonna-Michell’s performances are fragments of stories and meticulous descriptions that the artist often narrates in a low voice, like a shy boy seeking intimacy with his interlocutor. Every new gesture corresponds to a new word, memories and fictional events are overlapped and interwoven, creating a landscape in constant transformation where language acts as a balance needle oscillating between a premeditated order and an accelerated chaos: objects, audio recorders, films, photocopies, tooth brushes, eggcups, old postcards are the pieces of an intricate puzzle that the artist puts together again and again, in constantly new and seductive narratives.
Tris Vonna-Michell, Finding Chopin, video still, 2012.
Whatever the initial source of inspiration for a story – the streets of Berlin in the GDR-era, a man named Otto Hahn, the post-industrial landscape of Detroit, the ruins of bombed German towns or the artist’s own studio in some English suburb – the subject of his stories is, without doubt, history. The performance itself - often accompanied by slide projections - the changes in tone and speed, the chronicle of his personal experience, the passion for forgotten details, all emphasize a circular approach to historical facts.
His tales are like Merzbau, huge all-embracing constructions where a fragment's singularity is no longer recognizable, but of which the quick withdrawal from any rational organization of space and time can be appreciated.
Tris Vonna-Michell’s artistic practice calls into question the concepts of ambiguity, truth, fiction, memory, collective and personal history, but, above all, it reflects upon the complexity of our way of perceiving or of reconstructing experience. We met him in Florence, at the Marino Marini Museum where he performed Wastefull Illuminations [in collaboration with curator Federica Bueti] and we talked about storytelling and performance.
The music that goes with the interview is by GRILLO published by the netlabel Homework.Records.