MARCIA LYONS   Drive By SHooting

curated by tom tavelli

Marcia Lyons is a gifted cross media artist and talented theorist on the performance art form. DRIVE BY SHOOTING is an exhibition of Lyons' photographs, altered media, and “Bitch” objects are presented in tandem with her first book on new directions in screenwriting and fiction theory, WILD TRACK (Atropos Press, Dresden/NYC). 

Marcia Lyons made her initial artistic mark as a performance artist in the 1990’s international art scene. Lyons performed and exhibited extensively during this period, receiving numerous international awards and grants, including the American Academy– ROME PRIZE. Lyons used her extensive technical skills and media savvy to spill her performances out onto the street, beyond the safe art zone of the museum gallery and into an interaction with the unmediated reality of the street. Lyons is a pioneering practitioner of what became known under the rubric Media + Performance in New York.

“I put my own stain on the Pantheon by projecting my body on one of the oldest temples in the world. Skinning the curves of the two thousand year old duomo, like a ‘coming soon’ movie attraction, these sexy, fisted, emoji, pumped the edges of the first century curves with my most intimate parts. Stasera passeggiata... Crowds are seen pointing at the spectacle. Inside the Pantheon, I began washing the shaft of light cast by the oculus spot, prostrating myself on my hands and knees, as it followed time like a giant sundial. I like my media moist... Back in NYC, it made the centerfold spread in BOMB."

MUNGING BODIES, performance + animation, al Pantheon, Rome Italy


RED LICKERS, performance, Artists' Museum, Lodz, Poland

Lyons takes the Bitch Art Scene to Poland, when the communists were being re-elected as Democratic Socialists. She created billboards down Main Street (the same town where Polanski studied film-making) and performed as Allen Ginsberg recited Howl in the Vertical, "While I licked red off..."

AD SLUG for NEED WANT, a Revlon ad painted out with  custom paint, Artists' Museum, Lodz, Poland, 1993

"I used the bottom lip of a Revlon Ad and invented an ad campaign." 

Lyons work expands the performance form utilizing a mixture of media that ranges from live performance, to billboards, to animation; to live media feeds, to interactive digital technology, all mixed to create a contemporary performance field.  “RED”, 2013, a simultaneous exhibition at David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NM + St. Paul Street Gallery, Auckland, NZ in 2013 exemplified Lyons use of different media to mix a real-time event and space in an interactive performance piece. RED utilized a live feed of seismic data programed by Lyons to create an interactive abstract expressionist video projected on duel screens in two galleries located several time zones and thousands of miles apart. This incredible mix of advanced media technology created an interactive abstract visual performance space loop between both gallery installations; it’s viewers/actors and a factual geological reality interacting in brilliant color to create a Media + Performance mash up in a cyberspace mixed time/space reality. 

Lyons completed a doctorate at AUT/NZ and EGS/Switzerland in 2014. Her doctorate was constructed to personify her transmedia theory for a new direction in cinematic screen writing. In essence, Lyons' mirrored her theoretical vision of a new form of transmedia cinematic writing for her doctorial committee in 4 locations New Zealand Switzerland, Holland and the USA, simultaneously. It included the traditional academic researched doctorial form and expanded that form with live media feeds: a viewer directed cinematic performance of a process of plotted plots in the White Sands Desert and RED, a simultaneous two gallery installation in Santa Fe and Auckland of live seismic sctivity; all orchestrated virtuallly from the Downtown Subscription coffee house on the Eastside of Santa Fe, NM. Never satisfied with the mediated space, with her doctorate completed Lyons packed her Jeep Cherokee, sold her possessions and headed due West for LA. It was a typical, for Lyons, “done with that” plunge into a new form of the unmediated reality ; a plunge into LA, the home of boom and bust Hollywood and the greatest cinematic industry in the world.

"in the surface of things, and only in the surface of things, is the heart of things" Leo Strauss

Lyons is not a hand wringer over the moral shortcomings of the commercial media. She is quite the opposite. She has the highest respect for its real world truth and the grit and creativity that it takes to make a place in that unforgiving world. As Lyons and I left the Mary Reid Kelly video trilogy on exhibit at the Hammer Museum in LA her remark was, “Can you imagine what Meryl Streep could have done with that role?”

“Ultimately leaving the art world parameters and exhibition limits behind, my work transverses these many divergent territories of transmedia toward new directions in cinematic writing where a disjunctive viewing experience is possible”.

In LA the Hollywood sign sits overlooking the city; it still whispers its tarnished promise of glamour, fame and all the freedom money can buy. LA is where the American manifest destiny ends and the angst of its reality kicks in. In LA the vernacular architecture is the billboard. LA is a huge 3-D billboard that you live inside and that lives inside your psyche. Ed Rusha built his art around that recognition. Lyons works that same territory in DRIVE BY SHOOTING; that gap between the promise of the Hollywood dream and the disjointed, illogical, flat banality of experienced reality.

Marcia Lyons' still photography carries one of the great American street tradition of masters like Eggleston, Evans and Frank, while her sensibility veers closest to Winogrand, Arbus and Mapplethorpe. Like Winogrand she is a fearless from the hip shooter. From Arbus she takes her sense of the aching vulnerability of the “outcast and misfit” and their desperate social masks. From Mapplethorpe Lyons takes fashion and pornography as a language to explore the underbelly of sex and masculine/ feminine performance roles in American culture. Like Mapplethorpe, Lyons is willing to take her artistic imagery to its logical and over the top extreme. As she says “I like my media moist.” 

Lyons is acutely aware of the still tradition but in the end her sensibility is cinematic. It is the cinematic that Lyons leans in with. In DRIVE BY SHOOTING the subject is LA as a breathing pulsing extreme location, a “khoi” live media feed that surrounds and cradles the costumed performers. For Lyons the line of truth between media hype and the real deal is to be found somewhere in the mash up of reality and illusion that marks the surface of LA and the souls of its denizens.

In DRIVE BY SHOOTING Lyons is casting characters and setting the scene for the hardboiled detective and the angel in the décolleté red dress who is no angel. Lyons admires their street-smart swagger as they face up against the overwhelming odds they know are stacked against them. Her stills are a tableau vivant snapped just before the actors perform their roles in an American Neo-Noir film, a “True Hollywood Confidential”. The full film crew will not arrive. The open-ended script has yet to come together, for a pilot that has yet to be optioned. Hey, that’s LA and that’s real.