Composer and performer Mario Marchisella and visual artist Marianne Halter started collaborating after meeting in South Africa in 2008. Halter brings images and video generated in public spaces to any given project, while Marchisella adds music, field recordings, and performance to the mix.
While in residence at MacDowell during the summer of 2013, the duo worked on video installations based on performances shot during a month of travel exploring the myth of the American West. The footage they brought with them to Putnam/Graphics Studio was a combination of scripted scenes and material dreamed up onsite. One example is a miniature cactus the pair bought in Arizona. They weren’t sure what they were going to do with it until they were driving through Monument Valley and filmed Mario returning the plant to its natural habitat. The two take video of an installation or public performance often with an urban setting as background, or as they did recently, with a vast landscape as the backdrop. Sometimes they’ll work out a completely new idea, inspired by the generated material. It will typically require new footage to be shot, which is then combined with the archive material in new ways.
The artists, based in Zurich, Switzerland, will often highlight the absurd of the everyday, adding humor to mundane subjects as in their three-channel work, "The Conductor's Fear of the Soloist - Ten Small Pieces for Violin" shot in Johannesburg. It's based on a live-performance in urban space.