A figure lying on the floor in front of a large projection in blue and red

Mallory Catlett, "This Was the End," 2018. Photo: Ves Pitts.

Mallory Catlett

New York
Artist in Residence, 2023

Portrait of Mallory Catlett

Artist Statement

If language is time recorded, what are the effects of its limitations in naming and ordering experience? What if this uniquely human tendency to put life in a linear trajectory is what sets us at odds with ourselves, each other, and the natural world? The operative question for me then is: what else can time and language do? Can they un-tell stories and create openings? In performance I reorganize time, mix media, and use technology to dismantle linear histories and orchestrate the fragmentary. My productions are time machines that ask audiences to question how they document and measure their lives. 


While at Headlands

At Headlands I will be mapping my family book of genealogy, a powerful data set that shows the impact of one family on the spread of slavery. The Catlett’s came to Virginia in 1650. They fought in Bacon’s Rebellion and sat in the House of Burgesses that made the laws that institutionalized slavery. The 1850 Slave Schedules show 23 Catletts who brought enslaved people into seven states. By 1860 the number had grown to 52 in nine states. My aim is to transform the time and language of this book into a series of maps that document the intersections of my family and those they enslaved. Then, marking these intersections with performances that create openings for dialogue and co-creation. At Headlands I will be focused on Gloucester County VA, where Timberneck Farm (Catlett owned since the 1800’s) is currently being renovated by the Fairfield Foundation, whose mission is to uncover history.

Artist Portrait by Maria Baranova. 


Selected Work

Mallory Catlett, excerpts from “This Was the End,” 2018; “Archive,” 2021.


Mallory Catlett, excerpt from “Running Away from the One with the Knife,” 2015.


Mallory Catlett, excerpt from “The Visitation,” 2020; sound walk.


Mallory Catlett, excerpt from “The Visitation,” 2020; sound walk.