• adidas + UO: Alexandra Marzella

    The future is now. For our new + exclusive adidas campaign, we teamed up with 19 up-and-coming creative minds that our shaping our cultural landscape. Scroll on to go behind the scenes of our Fall 2016 campaign and meet the creatives who are working to #createourfuture. 

    Brooklyn artist Alexandra Marzella confronts the ideas of self image and body positivity in the digital age through performance-based art. We chatted with Alexandra about the foundations of her practice, which began as a form of self-exploration, and how a strong idea can make an image powerful. 
    Lead photo by Petra Collins

    Photo by Petra Collins

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do? 
    I’m a multidisciplinary artist from Rhode Island, but today I live in New York in Buswick, Brooklyn. My practice is mainly focused on performance art. 

    Let’s start way, way at the beginning. What’s the first thing you ever remember making? 
    I used to make really elaborate Barbie houses, that was probably the most memorable for me. 

    What would you make them out of? 
    Everything. I had some Barbie furniture, but I would build these very elaborate, expansive houses that would shift and change, and I would use any object that seemed like it could be-purposed in a Barbie-sized world. 

    Photo by Petra Collins

    Who keeps you going? 
    Everyone I surround myself with, really. Friends are probably the most inspiring. Daily re-affirmations of why we do what we do and just the struggle that everyone is always faced with. Then, of course, my mother is amazing, my family's amazing and they're all spread all around the world and we don't talk that much, we don't see each other that much, but they're always there if we need each other. I'm really blessed to have that. As well as people who come in and out of my life. It's constantly in flux.

    Above photos by Braina Laviena @picsfortipz 

    Do you feel like as an artist and as a person who has influence, that you have a responsibility to make the world a better place? 
    Of course. A heavy, heavy responsibility, for sure. My practice is pretty new. Considering my age, I haven’t been super aware of my practice for a long time. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I pretty much started recognizing, “Okay, this is what I think of what I’m doing.” And I really began making work about two years ago. I feel like every day you have an opportunity to learn new lessons and apply them to your practice, so I’m constantly trying to do that. It’s hard. 

    A lot of your work revolves around self image and selfie culture. 
    It definitely spawned from that. I think that that came from being someone who wasn’t so dead set on being an artist and growing up in a culture where we had access to the digital image and could share it so expansively. I really ran with that. It was more of a self-exploration than it was just taking selfies and putting them online.

    People started calling me a selfie artist before I even considered myself an artist. It's like, "Yeah, I've mastered the selfie. I went to design school and before I went to design school I already had an eye for composition and light and color.” That's really what it comes down to when you take selfies, right? It's like making a good image.

    What makes those images powerful? 
    Ultimately, I think it's really the concepts behind the image. If I take a selfie of me on the toilet, there might not seem like a big concept there, but in reality it's like opening people up to a world of something that they find to be different or gross or something that they might project their judgements onto. In reality, there's nothing unnatural about it. It's very normal. I think, for me, it's more about the intention behind the selfie than it is about the actual content. Yeah, I think classical fine art references that are all nice. It's nice when there's good light. It’s probably more interesting to look at a selfie with an amazing background, then again, people love white backgrounds too. 

    Photo by Petra Collins

    Is there a moment in your work so far that you’ve felt a sense of success? 
    I’ve felt satisfaction at the little things. People telling me my work has affected them or made them more confident, those things feel really tiny, but really important accomplishments. I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet. Personally, I don’t really feel like a good artist feels that way very often. 

    As a single individual it's very hard to make a big impact, and there's a lot of stress that goes into wanting to be a hero, wanting to be a revolutionary. It's super admirable, but it's very difficult to do, especially in this world. There are so many amazing people, activists, artists out there doing cool things that that's not really my goal. I think I'm working on figuring that out. Starting out, I was not interested in goals for a long time and I think that I'm slowly starting to dance around the idea of being a bit more goal-oriented and hitting certain marks. 

    But maybe that’s because that's the way the world was scored for a long time, but I'm not really interested in being successful, like famous or rich, I'm interested in being successful by living simply in my heart and in my body. It's on it's way. 

    If you could speak to the whole world at once, what would you say? 
    I don’t think I’ve quite found the language to put that into words yet. I also wouldn’t feel like I’m really someone that should representing that voice. Maybe I would consult with someone who. As a cis, white woman in this world, I think there are a lot of other voices to elevate. Maybe I’d say, “listen to her.” 

    Photo by Petra Collins

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