From Iceland — Breaking My Spell

Breaking My Spell

Breaking My Spell

Published August 19, 2011

A performance endurance piece

Anna Andersen
Photo by
Oddvar Örn Hjartarson

A performance endurance piece

Michelle L. Morby has come all the way from San Francisco to Reykjavík to participate in the Reykjavík half marathon on August 20. Not planning to set any records, Michelle is here to do a performance endurance piece called ‘Breaking My Spell,” involving nine costume changes.

It’s based on a fairy tale she wrote about an enchanted horse-turned-walrus going on a transformational journey to find itself. On the journey, the walrus meets different animals—a puffin and then a fox, for example—and each time it gives something of itself away until little by little it discovers itself as a horse again.

Breaking My Spell- Oddvar Örn Hjartarson_2“The idea is that the different things that the walrus sacrifices are all defence mechanisms to get back to the original vulnerability and strength of self,” Mi-chelle explained. “The tusks are about defence, the blubber is about creating a boundary, and the skin is about creating tough skin. When you shed all these layers, you reveal your true self.”

The piece is very much part of Michelle’s own transformational journey. “I had gained a bunch of weight, and just going to gym was not enough,” Michelle said. “I’m really disciplined in my art practice, so I thought, what if I made this into my art practice. It’s a different way of contextualising discipline and eventually it becomes a ritual. I’m creating this transformation. I’m still in the walrus body and I’m transforming into the horse as I get stronger and more fit and flexible.”

She adds: “One of the reasons I wanted to do a walking performance is because it is referencing the circumambulation that people do in different religious sites. It’s a sort of walking meditative preponderance of the transformative quality.”

The whole art project, which will span three countries over the next three years, will also wind up being a film. Visit to find out more, and if you catch Michelle in the act of transformation during, she encourages you to send in your photos.

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