Sophont (2015) is a previous iteration of Sophont in Action, the new work in development for Performance in Progress. Through three character types—elder Time Travelers, adult Ecstatic Dancers, and young Indigo Children—the video work explores hermetic wisdom, utopian experiments, and racial futures.
In Heterotopias (2011), nine performers create surrogate identities that bring personal fantasies to life. The avatars in the world of Holman’s video work are realized through simple props and costumes, and then rendered in a virtual gamescape. Traveling through physical and virtual realities, and domestic and mythical scenarios, the characters of Heterotopias explore the performance of the self in the digital era.
The three-channel video work Reborn (2009) plays with varied notions of “the maternal.” In this work, Holman draws on a real-life phenomenon, a mania in the doll community for creating hyper-realistic baby dolls known as “reborns.” Holman constructed a collection of her own dolls, pairing them with women cast as “mothers.” Holman describes these surrogate infants in fantasy mother/child tableaux as “at once erotic, reverent, stereotypical, sincere, and absurd.”
The Magic Window (2007), named for the first ad campaign selling televisions in the USA, explores the influence of popular television on the narratives that play out in domestic life. Holman’s actors wear handcrafted masks that echo characters from two iconic TV families: the Conners from Roseanne and the Huxtables from The Cosby Show. The characters carry out household tasks in their separate worlds, before they come together in a psychedelic dance scene.
In Troglodyte (2005) Holman explores human emotion and behavior through a cast of dancing chimpanzees. Holman constructed a set of wearable chimpanzee sculptures out of latex, hair, and fabric. Dressed in these creations, her actors toggle between primal and fantasy worlds, dancing through psychedelic realms and then grooming each other in primitive, forested landscapes.
Drop in to view Desirée Holman’s complete video works—Sophont (2015), Heterotopias (2011), Reborn (2009), The Magic Window (2007), and Troglodyte (2005). Across her work, Holman explores exploring fantastical roles, identity, and the nature of belief.
Desirée Holman’s Sophont in Action is part of Performance in Progress.