Breakdown (2011), a video collaboration between artists Simone Leigh and Liz Magic Laser with opera singer Alicia Hall Moran, explores the history of psychological “breakdowns” on stage and screen. Bearing witness to Moran’s operatic, tense repetition of mundane phrases - her voice and movements jerking and teetering as if on a razor’s edge - the film provides a rare, sanctioned glimpse of a black female in emotional crisis over the familiar pressures of everyday life. The viewer’s resulting discomfort is also an opportunity for empathy, and a reframing of the social discourse around black women and hysteria in popular culture.
Simone Leigh (b. 1968), is an American artist born to Jamaican parents, living in and working in Brooklyn, NY. Her practice is an object-based on-going exploration of black female subjectivity. She creates sculpture, videos and installations informed by her interest in African art, ethnographic research, feminism and performance. She is the creator of The Free People’s Medical Clinic a social practice project commissioned by Creative Time in 2014. Leigh has exhibited internationally including: PS1/MoMA; The Walker Art Center, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Kitchen; Tilton Gallery; Contemporary Museum of Art Houston; SculptureCenter; Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna; L’Appartement22 in Rabbat, Morocco; the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; and the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. Leigh's work has been written about in many publications, including: Art In America, Artforum, Sculpture Magazine, Modern Painters, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Small AxE and Nka:Journal of Contemporary African Art, and Bomb Magazine.
Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981, New York) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Her performances and videos intervene in semi-public spaces and have involved collaborations with actors, dancers, surgeons, and motorcycle gang members. Her recent work appropriates the dominant performance techniques and psychological strategies used by the media and politicians to sway public opinion. She earned a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from Columbia University. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Most recently, her work was the subject of solo exhibitions at Paula Cooper Gallery; the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany; DiverseWorks, Houston; and Mälmo Konsthall, Sweden. Her work has also been exhibited at Lisson Gallery; the Moscow Museum of Modern Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; the Performa 11 Biennial, New York; The Pace Gallery, New York; and MoMA PS 1, New York.
Alicia Hall Moran (b. 1973, Redwood City, CA) brings her diverse influences and passions together in a rich artistic brew. Her performance as Bess in Broadway’s 2012 “Best Musical Revival” Tony-winner The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess, was critically acclaimed. Since 2010, Moran’s cabaret club act, Alicia Hall Moran and the Motown Project, has performed at venues including the Highline Ballroom, Le Poisson Rouge, Regattabar, The Kitchen, Whitney Museum of American Art, University of Pennsylvania, and West Chester University. As an artist, Moran curated a 26-performance multimedia event, BLEED, for the 2012 Whitney Biennial along with her husband, pianist Jason Moran. Other recent projects include a term as artist-in-residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and a commission for Art Public/Art Basel Miami Beach.