95 Empire Street
Chase Freedom by swiping the jumbo credit card flag. Staged atop a wooden puzzle map of the continental U.S., Rogers conflates sculpture, prop, memento, and snack. You may find regional potato chip healing crystals, an authority figure who is sorry, western wear, man-made and/or vampire-made quilts, and possible tea bagging.
from Benjamin Thorp, curator of Black Iris Gallery in Richmond, VA:
In the summer of 2015, artists Leslie Rogers and Nelly Kate set off on a 9000 mile performance tour across the U.S. titled ‘Merikan Merkintile. PLAY/THINGS is the resulting internalization and articulation of accumulated experiences, a meditation on the state of the union. In the installation, the object’s meaning is oblique, and narrative centers on the map. Not unlike the sprawling stories of road life that have come before it, these works explore the underbelly of Americana, its food, culture, crafts, manufactured histories and ideologies. What sets Rogers’ insight apart is the refusal to bend towards common sense. Life is an experiment and the outcome is not predetermined. Preconceptions of gender, labor and nationalism are approached with a healthy skepticism, padded with humor. Humor provides the key to this work. To reveal meaning, it is necessary to reverse engineer the joke. Ultimately, we ask you to joyously abandon romantic notions of journey and catharsis. Revel in the unearthing and production of art, life and mischief.
Performance developed with Mark McCloughan
Original score developed with Nelly Kate
Further creative contributions:
Charles Bernard Gushue
Olivia “Livi” Tran
Leslie Rogers is a sculptor, video, and performance artist with roots in puppetry and fibers. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in The Michigan Society of Fellows and an Assistant Professor at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, holds an MFA in Sculpture & Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her work draws heavily from slapstick entertainment, collaborative relationships, and gender tropes to disregard or erase perceived hierarchies between performer and object, and amongst art forms and social groups.
Rogers was a founding member of Philadelphia-based PuppeTyranny performance collective, curatorial member of Little Berlin Gallery, and a curator and organizer of touring theater for Puppet Uprising. Also in Philadelphia, she exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Vox Populi, International House, Little Berlin, Extra Extra, Practice Gallery, Copy, and Bodega. Elsewhere, she has exhibited or performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Threewalls Gallery, AcreTV, Chicago Filmmakers, Columbia College, and Links Hall in Chicago; at the Hammer Museum and Ultrazone Laser Tag with KChung Radio in Los Angeles; Current Gallery, E.M.P. Collective and the Trans Modern Arts Festival in Baltimore; Artisphere and Black Iris Gallery in Virginia, The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, and in New York at St. Ann’s Warehouse for the Great Small Works Toy Theater Festival, Secret Project Robot, Christmastown, and Monkeytown.
Play/Things was produced with generous support from The Michigan Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. The exhibit and performance come to AS220 with generous support from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan.