Ellen Mueller

What It Takes

The cheerleader is a compelling archetype when considering the dueling nature of being both a leader and conformist. I am interested in what it takes to maintain that duality; to be simultaneously an individual and a team member; being cheerful, on-point, ready, and prepared. What it takes to be a follower, a supporter, a woman, a patriot, a hero, a human; being trustworthy, loyal, fearless, bold, loud, synchronized, and well-practiced. I am asking questions about how this cliché is constructed and what are we left with after deconstruction.

Influences include the performative and video works of Yoko Ono, Joan Jonas, and Martha Rosler, as well as glitch aesthetics.

This performance consisted of cheerleading uniforms and seam rippers on a table. I was wearing one of the uniforms and invited participants to help deconstruct the uniforms with me, while holding conversation. Participants were told that the detritus would be used to create and installation in the space the following day. Conversation moved from issues of sweatshop labor to feminist and political reflections. Many remarked that the process felt cathartic. It was striking to watch human adeptness at destroying things. It was remarkable the amount of damage the were capable of with such simple tools, once they were given permission.

After the performance, I spent time reconfiguring the detritus into a variety of hanging sculptures arranged in a dense  installation. Visitors are welcome to wander throughout the objects, which move and sway slightly as people pass by.