You are walking down a street in Chicago on your way to work. The sunshine is warm on your skin, the breeze is rejuvenating, and the buildings rising into the bright blue sky leave you in awe. You are soothed by the contentment and simplicity of an average day. Without warning, a group rushes into the street, interspersing with scattered pedestrians. You turn to see yourself near mythical creatures. Bodies draped in fantastical costumes begin to contort and spasm as a cacophony of screeching stringed instruments and arrhythmic drum beats permeate the air, jarring you from the complacency of the mundane and thrusting you into a magical realm.
This is the type of performance Holly Chernobyl gives with Antibody Corporation, a “mission based organization specializing in mind-body integration” (Antibody Corporation) through collaboration with artists and performances in public spaces. The organization sponsors interdisciplinary performances that span multiple domains, including performance art, film, and music.
"Our work ruptures and mystifies the mundane."
Holly is a Wiccan performance artist who describes her work as a “physical response to current social, political, and moral climates--always with an injection of horror” (DCASE 2014). Holly is motivated by a need to challenge notions of the mundane and create a sense of escapism through surrealist environments. She strives to disrupt the ordinary with elements of fear and suffering, requiring audience members to interact with the performers, critically assess reality, and experience transformations. Holly is inspired by ideas that seem contradictory, but feel deeply connected through her lived experiences. Her work is an expression of suffering and ecstasy that examines the occult and politicization of bodies.
"Pain and fear are resources in discovering limits and opportunity for transgression"
While it initially appears that Holly is motivated by her desire to illicit a reaction from her audience, her passion and dedication toward art is driven by intrinsic factors. Holly finds pleasure in losing herself in movement and the meaning her work represents, sparking creativity that “is motivated by the enjoyment and satisfaction [derived] from engaging in the creative activity” (Collins & Amabile 298). She seeks the satisfaction of expressing her perspective and provoking critical analysis from her audience instead of pursuing fame, fortune and praise. She seeks the euphoria of becoming immersed in performance, claiming that she loses awareness of herself through engaging with her body. Holly attains a “flow state” during her performances in which she experiences “a psychological ‘high’ wherein there are heightened feelings of enjoyment and a centering of concentration” (Collins & Amabile 301). The exhilaration is addictive, drawing Holly into a life of performance.
"I dissolve my surrounding and create new environments. With this technique I change the quality of my body: from stone, to bark, to mist."
Holly asks her audience to feel the full complexity of their emotions. Instead of separating euphoria from suffering, mysticism from reality, or spirituality from taboo, Holly encourages creatives to draw inspiration from all facets of their experiences. It is perhaps in the most tumultuous parts of ourselves that we discover magic in the mundane.
"I start with my body. Then I discard myself."
"ANTIBODY CORP." ANTIBODY CORP. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.antibodycorp.org/menu.php?corp=info>.
"Chicago Artists Month." Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.chicagoartistsmonth.org/featured-artists/holly-chernobyl>.
Collins, M.A., & Amabile, T.M. (1999). Motivation and creativity. In Robert J. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of Creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
" H O L L Y C H E R N O B Y L." H O L L Y C H E R N O B Y L. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://hollychernobyl.weebly.com/>.
"MOIRAI." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqlECAZbcwc&t=292>.