Stella Anne Dixon’s trans-media practice aims to explore beyond the institutionalized convictions of popular culture and mass media, and its obsession with image regime, by demonstrating the real as nothing more than a metastasized staging. The abstraction of ‘authenticity’ since its modernist deconstruction can’t solve postmodern anomie, at a time when self-esteem and personal expression are bound to the logics of commodity culture, manufacturing not just celebrities but the desire to be them.
Popular media facilitates an online realm where our lives can be edited and documented in real time, resulting in an identity that is explicitly curated, but also in a dichotomy that suggests a division between virtual and real-life personas. However, due to the prevalence of digital media and media representation’s impact on this detached perception of reality, the divide is unclear and creates a feedback loop where online presence informs a notion of identity in ‘real life’, and vice versa. Representation engulfs the real, creating an inflated validation of subjectivity in identity politics. Layering this contemporary experience with specific attention to young feminine identities in popular media creates an intricate situation, especially in regards to the media panic that persists about sexualized self-presentation and possible exploitation and/or extreme vanity of young women.
If to be seen is to exist, the absence or deconstruction of the spectacle, or, in psycho-sexual development becomes problematic. Without the media feed and cameras, how do iconic celebrities, and the rest of us, reify our existence or ego. The body of an icon, like that of all market subjects, is experienced by spectators as an object designed to scandalize, sell products, and attract. Dixon’s most recent work appropriates the work of Lady Gaga to explore how performance is used as a method of communication which influences our self-perception. She opened the performance by assuming a male alter ego and engaging in an intense monologue. The character divulges into details of his relationship with the artist and the characters she inhabits.
The character appears unhinged when compared to previous men/ and or adopted persona’s, stating ‘she said I’m just like the last one’. The three-minute speech was concluded with details of their romantic endeavors ‘… because she can’t stand to have one honest moment where nobodies watching.
I just wanted her to be real, but she said she’s not real, I’m not real. I am theatre and we belong to the stage.’ The artist isolates and re-stages tropes, tactics and methods used to commercialize women in popular media tests the boundaries of mainstream and avant-garde theater, and appropriates the concept of contemporary performance as ‘high art’. Thus, allowing the artist to reclaim the right to scrutinize her performative self publicly, not as shock art, or to serve the male gaze, but as means of using agency to isolate an audience in a setting in which they have to confront these machinations.