Brooklyn art duo Mike and Claire use current technology and meticulously designed costumes, hair, makeup, and sets to capture the humorous and grotesque in everyday people. Their characters are kooky neighbors club kids, and family members we would rather not be associated with, all amped up in colorful yet believable grittiness.
The pair met while studying photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Shortly after, they began living as roommates and creating and acting in their collaborative works. In an interview with Dazed, Claire explains their working relationship: “We balance each other well. Sometimes I can get really crazy because I get so excited about doing lots of projects, and Mike is really good at taking things one step at a time.”
In addition to life in New York, Mike and Claire also credit fairy tales, cartoons, drag queens, silent films and specific shows like The Mighty Boosh with providing inspiration for their work. For them, creating GIFs is exciting because it is a new artistic medium that can tell the story of a character in ways a still image cannot. They also compare the frame-by-frame structure of GIFs to early filmmaking, and it is that blending of old and new that appeals so much to them as artists.
Their bizarre, colorful videos lead the viewer through worlds that are part Alice in Wonderland, part haunted house. While Mike and Claire’s videos are clearly meant to be playful and campy, there is often a sinister side too. For example, in The Cherub Garden the scene shifts from two people drinking tea to a creepy ritual which ends in the pair mysteriously dying.
Unlike some artists who only show work in museums and galleries, Mike and Claire enthusiastically share theirs online because it is accessible to everyone and can spread easily. As a teen, Mike was obsessed with Flickr and loved the way looking at one person’s image could lead him to other images with similar themes or visual styles. They see the internet as a tool which allows their work to be seen by people who would otherwise not encounter it.