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Belinda Powell was a life/art performance character I enacted from 2010-2015.  She emerged as a waking dream when writing memoir about my mom.  I consider her to be a shadow character as she is the antithesis to my academic persona.  She is innocent, truthful, and simple, yet she asks direct questions as a child might.  Belinda is a channel for cultural themes having to do with the current period in history: the transition from 20th to 21st century, the role of the human, hopefulness vs. despair, climate change, whiteness, mass culture, globalization.  Belinda calls attention to the lack of truth in mass culture, by showing realness, flaws and vulnerability.  


What can she do to help make the world a better place?  She creates her own "world" through producing and reproducing the activities of everyday life, such as sewing clothes, writing songs, cleaning and cooking, shopping, greeting people and other quotidian activities, along with creating talismans and other ritual objects.   I bring a sociological interpretation of everyday life to my performance art work, tying together personal life activities to socio-political concerns.  The work is conceived on different levels: personal and social, gender stereotypes and disruptions of those, a larger concern about "freedom," and historical and contemporary meanings of "America." 


In my performance art as Belinda Powell, I use the themes and symbolic language of popular American culture in order to call attention to the meaning of America, gender, whiteness, and theoretical issues of individualism, celebrity, and post-postmodernism.  I purposely embody an historical and stereotypical female image, in order to question the type of persons and messages "allowed" by contemporary 21st century culture.  Belinda reminds us of a different time, doing original folk-pop and covers of mid-century songs, changing the lyrics to reflect contemporary challenges, and using pop song and form for social critique.   I understand my work as a performance artist as a call to make full what is flat, and to make real what is artificial.

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