computer generated image of cats in clouds
not alone 2.0. Image courtesy of maeshelle west-davies.

maeshelle west-davies: not alone 2.0

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maeshelle west-davies debuts her latest performance piece, not alone 2.0, at Helmut on Friday, 11 March 2022. She is well-known in art and culture circles in Leipzig, where she has lived and worked as an artist, MC and event producer for many years. Raised in the US, maeshelle spent several years living in the UK before moving to Germany. She is a multimedia artist, expressing her emotional and physical experiences through various materials and mediums. maeshelle does extensive research on her subjects, and in her own words, “orders chaos”. She loves to invite her audience to interact with her art and to create their own meaning from that which she presents to them.

By April 2020, the world was in its first Covid 19 lockdown.

Most of us felt our lives stall, stutter, and change direction. Suddenly, that which we thought was immutable, constant, fixed, was proven to be shakeable, even disposable. As a result, much in our lives changed, including our interactions with our communities. Children and students suddenly found themselves navigating the murky waters of online learning. Work from home became the new go-to, and we all attended many, many more Zoom meetings than we probably would have liked. Very soon pets and wayward children became the new Internet superstars, for all of their 15 minutes of fame. Countless articles were written on the pros and cons of working from home. We were variously warned to maintain work-life balance and assured that productivity remained steady, even improving. But what about our social relations? Anxiety skyrocketed, and those living alone were suddenly much more isolated than before.

event flyer for not alone 2.0
not alone 2.0. Image courtesy of maeshelle west-davies.

In not alone 2.0, maeshelle explores the different ways in which people were reaching out to each other during our involuntary isolation. How do things look in our personal lives now, two years on? Relationships thrived, crumbled, or imploded. Some faltered, others shifted and adapted to changing needs and times. In many cases, and possibly due to all this extra time to contemplate, political and other beliefs became stronger.

The virus, according to maeshelle, is not the only danger.

She wrote not alone in June 2020, not only as a response to the worldwide lockdown but to the ways in which people sought to interact during it. Increasingly, she observes, the ways in which we present ourselves online, the ways in which we create our online worlds, have changed. Algorithms crystalize our focus, our ways of expressing and escaping our experiences. We joke about how mentioning something in conversation will lead to a barrage of adverts based on a stolen keyword. We laugh because it is increasingly true. Accidentally click on an ad and suddenly your entire feed changes accordingly. One Instagram or Facebook like determines the change in course of your reels and adverts. In this way, our states of mind are reflected by that which we view on, and contribute to, our online platforms.

not alone 2.0 is the follow-up to maeshelle’s collaborative performance piece not alone, showcased in June 2020. In this edition, two musicians and a dancer find themselves isolated and caught in an algorithm controlled by maeshelle. The show on March 11 is a three-hour durational performance, with video footage as installation pieces showcased every Friday until 8 April.

Featuring dancing by Jonathan Kolski and music by l’amicale du grand hôtel abgrund. This production is funded by the KulturAmpt Leipzig.

 


 

Dates: 11 March – 8 April. Live durational performance on 11 March, with a video installation of the performance on every subsequent Friday.

Venue: Helmut, Kohlgartenstrasse 51

Loudine Heunis came to Leipzig in 2018 to pursue the MSc Early Childhood Research degree at Uni Leipzig. She started writing for Leipglo as nightlife reporter towards the end of that year and became an editor in 2019. She is now Leipglo's Editor-at-Large and is currently back in her native South Africa.

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