Maura Axelrod is a fearless director and producer of news and documentaries. Covering global conflicts and stories deserving of our attention, Axelrod has reported from places such as Cairo, Kabul, Minsk, Aman and Rio for networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, BBC, ITN, Al Jazeera, PBS News Hour, National Geographic Channel, The New York Times and Dan Rather Reports. Most recently Axelrod has switched her attention to a documentary on the contemporary Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The feature length Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016 as a special presentation at the Guggenheim Museum and aired recently on the BBC on their Imagine series. Axelrod continues to excite and confound us with her body of work.
Work by Maura Axelrod:
Stills from Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back
Maura nominated the American performance artist Michelle Ellsworth:
Michelle Ellsworth is made of ideas. She never stops envisioning new ways to do things and to say things, and she never lets an idea escape unrealized. In each of her pieces, there are layers and layers of effort and execution, laid one atop the other. No one has ever worked harder.
Michelle’s work is incredibly generous to the rest of us. Her compassion for the human condition leads her to lay herself bare in her work. She lets us know that she forgives us for all of our flaws - and she does it by exposing all of her own, never flinching. It can be tragic at times, but her work is still filled with joy at the hilarity of how imperfect we all are. Michelle’s pieces are a celebration of the mysteries of our existence, and a stark acknowledgement of the unbearable reality of loss, and the terrible and beautiful ways we are trying to make sense of it all.
Michelle Ellsworth trained as a dancer, and you'll find dance at the root of her work. But her practice has expanded to encompass a great wild amalgamation of disciplines. She uses technology, spoken word, and elaborately constructed sets and costumes in her work, which have included set-pieces as far-ranging as videos of women burying hamburgers at locations around the world, and a toilet whose seat rises and lowers at random intervals. Michelle's work has inspired me to look for solutions everywhere, even in the absurd. As she says: "There are no bad ideas....or maybe they are just all bad ideas.
Work by Michelle Ellsworth (images by Satchel Spence):