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Many different ideas can come together to form a single work of art, giving it layers of meaning, depth and complexity. The work twists and turns with the artist’s thoughts, picking up attributes and assets along its path until the decision is made to call it done. My current project is a map or a log of the journey of my thinking. From nostalgia, to pride, to shame, to acceptance, my feelings are embedded and recorded into the work.

This project, Self-portrait As Daniel Lavitt, has stemmed from an elusive memory of an object from childhood—a small music box-carousel with details I can barely recall. I remember only the wonder and the mystery of seeing its six small doors rotate open for just a moment, and then close again right away, catching only a momentary glimpse of what was held within. Remembering this object twenty years later, and the qualities it held for me, I decided to reconstruct a version of it except this time not on the scale of the miniature but on the scale of architecture.

The pairing of architectural sculpture and video data projection is a metaphor for the human body and the spirit. Wood, metal, nuts, bolts, screws, motors, chains and sprockets come together to form a system of moving parts, a mechanism that is able to move; this is the body. A video projection is intangible, information and light with no physical mass, a ray of light that is able to animate whatever is in its path; this is the spirit. Together these two components form my project and become the symbols that represent specifically my body and my spirit—a portrait of myself.

In the video, taking on the role of Peewee Herman is an exploration of self-worth. He is a character who is regarded in society as a man-child, an imp, a clown, commonly perceived as homosexual and more recently as a sexual deviant. Donning his recognizable outfit is to externalize and project onto myself these characteristics, characteristics that I relate to and struggle with as an individual. It’s an exercise in self-acceptance, and in how I imagine myself to be perceived by others. To choose to outwardly identify with Peewee is to bring to the fore my own insecurities and present them to the viewer.

The inner conflict and frustration of how I can feel at times is manifested through the second video, that of the fire. There is strong tension between the safety and security of the private backyard, a situation pitted against the uncertainty, the uncontrollability and the potentially dangerous effects of fire. These two moving images, fire and Peewee, compose the surface of my sculpture and reflect the struggle and confusion that I know must exist in all of us.

Self-Portrait As Daniel Lavitt
Self-Portrait As Daniel Lavitt
wood, steel, sprockets, roller chain, motor, video projectors, picket fence, faux fireplace