A healthy skepticism of western academia led MacDowell Fellow Michelle Ellsworth to view the revered authors of classical literature from a different perspective. “I read all those super cool, dead white guys in college and I resisted them profoundly,” Ellsworth said during an interview in New Hampshire Studio at MacDowell in spring of 2013. She recalled as an undergraduate at New York University, throwing Plato’s The Republic out her apartment window upon completing it.
The interdisciplinary artist was at work during her second MacDowell residency on a project that ties the classics to the often murky concepts of justice in the post 9-11 world. It will be a stage performance that centers on Greek mythological figure Clytemnestra and her search for direction, transformation, and redemption when she murders her husband Agamemnon in The Oresteia. But there’s a twist. All the characters are imagined as people living in the 21st century.
Titling the new work Clytigation: State of Exception, Ellsworth said her take on Aeschylus’ famous dramatic trilogy is a “feminist remix” of the tale. It takes the form of a solo performance that uses the character and complexities of Clytemnestra to explore the “impact that wars have on legal protocols.”
Ellsworth, who works in video, text, and “performance sculptures” among other media, considers dance to be her “native language as an artist.” She’s a classically trained dancer who teaches choreography, theatre, and special arts and sciences classes at The University of Colorado Boulder.