Visual artist Michelle Hannah, working out of Glasgow, is a plural form. Her romantic intense highly treated vocal performances, re-voicing lyrics from pop music, with dirty hands in pristine suits, blind eye contact lenses, sleek dresses and gold nails, spotlights and super pre-recorded dimensional projected texts bring to mind fashion designers Thierry Mugler and Azzedine Alaia, performance artists Vaginal Davis, Kembra Pfahler and Kalup Linzy, pop stars like Klaus Nomi, Steve Strange, Grace Jones and David Bowie, photographers like Katharina Sieverding and artists like Linder Sterling, Ryan Trecartin and Matthew Barney (Cremaster 1, Marti Domination, Goodyear). And to an earlier era of TV and pop music videos and of styling, and the occupation of the stylist: The Human League's Reproduction (1979), Circus of Death, and Travelogue (1980), Being Boiled, A Crow and a Baby, and Phil Oakey in heels and askew haircut, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, Ronny To Have and Have Not (1982), Compare Me with the Rest (1981), If You Want Me To Stay (1981) and This Strange Obsession (no date), Visage, and the David Bowie synthetic video effects rich Ashes to Ashes (Scary Monsters), Grace Jones work with stylist and photographer Jean-Paul Goude...
She is a supreme mythologizer. She is born under ìthe sign of Leo in the early eighties in Alexandria, Scotland. She has spent most of her early life being concerned with the darker recesses of the human psyche... around the abyss that encompasses the great themes of gothic art and science fiction, to convey terse, provocative, morally ambiguous work, and to use this to create a complete dystopian self image of existence; defined by the use of stylized propositions with the absence of corroborating evidence or narrators.
Much of the work in Hannah's playback of performance songs, stage their lyrical intentions and meanings, and often masculine sensitive address and delivery onto superstar surfaces, prismatic jewels reflecting back to illusions of gender, the promises of androgyny, the performativity of gender masquerades in Judith Butler's Gender Trouble, the ideas about speech acts, their intention or descriptions to physical action, about the performativity of gender and its fabrications. I see long lines of mascara, lipstick, Gaultier powders, drugs, perfumes, cabaret bars, gay discotheques, Chanel and backrooms, how they mirror, infinitely or inform or define and deliver extreme alter and ultra egos, and personal disguises while in camouflage and in plain sight/site, in her range of aesthetic references, airports, parks, hotels and palaces, and deep bass noise with its hum hurting our breastbones, her electronic voice(s), surrogate pop star, and ventriloquism and its clarity and slickness, how these references exist within the work, the Blade Runner tensions, and senses of dystopian futures or utopian idealism. I am interested in how Michelle has generated a science fiction self, not just a pop star, but an aura, intoxicating extra-self, a mystic allure machine and interested in her maintenance of that persona, its psychological impacts, and the transformation it achieves from (unwitnessed, internal) self to (witnessed, external) performance self, how she exist on this spectrum of Michelle Hannahs, her plural forms, her super pre-recorded or film-to-camera self and the live work, wherein she achieves the cascading statuses of femme fatale and cabaret chanteuse, modulator, pitch shifter and synthesizer, vocoder and light machine; there are conditions of fetish, ambiguity, freedom, sleaze, jeopardy, the unknown, this wonder terms the work, shaping and defining your spectacular-self. And is phrased by words like Metallic, Drag and Luminosity, and Post-human, a digitized enhanced artificial avatar.
I think when you look out from the performances onto your black/white contacts and I wonder if you can see cinematic fictions, pop videos, discos, robots and soundstages, the blind dream camera in Wenders Until the End of the World, Fassbinders Querelle and World on A Wire, Logan's Run, THX 1138, David Cronenberg, Alien, David Lynch or Ralf and Florian in Kling Klang, the set for True Faith, or the line at a very hot night at Studio 54....
Notes: Radiowaves converted from a point offset the planet Saturn, Marti Domination has portrayed a cavalcade of characters on the late-night stages of New York City, from Queen Elizabeth I, Marlene Dietrich, and Meg Myles, to Sable Starr, Dusty Springfield, and Candy Darling.
Voice: This is not a dream... not a dream. We are using your brain's electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream. You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation.
'THE WORDS AT THE SILENT EDGE OF SCIENCE FICTION"
on Michelle Hannah
by Alex Hetherington
'LICHT UND BLINDHEIT'