Featured Artist #14: Michael Meyers

Michael Meyers

The Cat, the Canary…

Michael Meyers tells the story of a truly unique foursome, illuminating the inner lives of beasts and inanimate objects. Its a love story and meditation on friendship complete with epiphanies, odd unions, and flashes of light. And then there’s the lurid scene involving codeine-induced (possible) debauchery. Does this relationship have a future? Can these kids make it?


How is this piece different in its life as a video, as opposed to a performance or text?

"The Cat, The Canary..." began as text, as a story. When performed, I removed as many literary riffs as possible so that when the work was spoken it didn’t feel to the audience as though I was reciting memorized material, which of course, I was. A straight-ahead video document is often a shortened version of the original. At best a document allows for the rethinking of the original and an opportunity to create a new piece. That is what I hoped to do: to have another go at the original story and make a new piece from the ingredients.

You work across several mediums and genres: painting, sculpture, performance, writing. Why so nomadic?

My answer to this question vacillates between the poles of Curse and Blessing. I can say that I am grateful for those times when I am fully engaged in art making. Life has a center them, gravity works better (I don’t feel as though I might float away) and the flatness of the phenomenal world thickens, or so the delusion goes.

How does this piece connect (or not connect) with larger themes and concerns in your work?

I have no theme. I’d thought to expand on that statement, but, alas, trying, I could not, or rather I could, and doing so I discovered that I have tons of themes, an entire park full of themes. I wish I could just say, Republicans. My theme is Republicans, but it isn’t so I can’t. Once, because all the characters I killed off popped up again, I thought my theme was birth/death & resurrection, and maybe I told that to someone though I hope I did not.

What do you call yourself?

Naming, now that’s been a problem. As a child, when asked on a form to indicate what car my family drove around in, I’d write; Oldsmobile 98, V-8, 2-tone, 4 door hardtop with wire wheels and leatherette interior. Stopping then, due only to the limitations of space, I knew I had told but a partial truth, just as now, when asked to identify myself, resisting the use of the hyphen, I say, uneasily, fiction writer.

How are the cat and the canary doing these days?

And why have you not thought also to inquire about the wellbeing of Spoon and his intoxicating sidekick, Bottle? Assuming your interest, I can tell you now that nothing has changed for the four of them since last they saw light. The meter, the one located on the outside of the drawer in which they live, remains below the need of my intervention.

The 9 most important objects in your workspace?

A moment ago I might have said, cottage cheese. Now that I’ve eaten some, I won’t. I never owned a sub-woofer. Now I do. It’s not really number two of the list, but please include the woofer on it somewhere. Facial stubble. But why? The first thing I thought of, my first reason for its inclusion was maudlin and depressing, so I axed it. If I call his name, there is a good chance my dog, Beau, will wander in. Let’s say I have done that. Please include Beau, a fine and noble fellow. I look around for more items. Much of what I see is dear to me. More important it seems is what I keep out of my studio. The jerk living across the alley comes to mind.

This project is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council

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  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.