Alison S.M. Kobayashi is an identity contortionist. In her work, Kobayashi performs a variety of characters that are both studiously and playfully rendered. These personas are inspired by Kobayashi’s extensive collection of lost, discarded and donated objects; ranging from answering machine tapes purchased at a secondhand shop to a love letter left on a sidewalk. Through repeated interaction with the objects — deep listening, research, re-enactment and play — narratives and imagery begin to manifest and inspire new work. The results are funny, low-fi artifacts of an artist embodying the lives of others.
With Say Something Bunny! Kobayashi presents a new performance and exhibition based on two audio spools hidden inside an obsolete wire recorder purchased at an estate sale. The recordings capture the voices of a New York family spanning 1952 to 1954. The narrative contained in the recording is a puzzle peppered with fragmented and overlapping dialogue, a charming living room drama rich with the eccentricities of family dynamics preformed for the tape recorder. Decoding the document and using it as both soundtrack and inspiration, Kobayashi creates a new installation containing videos, drawings and book works that reimagine the events, characters, and references from the recording.
Over several performances, an intimate audience is privy to a script ‘read through’ where Kobayashi acts as both director and performer, contextualizing the recording with her research (and imagination) and tangentially exploring character’s personal histories — from the Ivy League to the pornographic. In Kobayashi’s practice, “personal histories get farther from fact as we learn to tell a better story.” Say Something Bunny! plays with what authentic memory is, preserving narrative details from source material and fictionalizing the rest.