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Iowa City, IA
United States

How To Become Real: Performance and Installation

How Toys Become Real is the alternative title to the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit, wherein a toy rabbit longs to be noticed and loved by a little boy. Over time the rabbit learns from the little boy that genuine love is unconditional and timeless. It is real love that transforms the stuffed animal from a toy to a living rabbit.  

This installation and performance, titled How to Become Real approaches the search for genuine love from the context of a romantic relationship. The story is conveyed from the perspective of a partner who felt transformed into the relationship workhorse. 

Workhorses are psychologically trained by partner approval. They struggle to meet the perceived expectations of their partner in hopes of enjoying a split second of affection. More often than not, the workhorse will find its efforts purposefully unappreciated. The infrequent award of affection drives the horse to perform variations on a successful routine in order to recapture a fleeting moment of love and companionship. Unfortunately, this specific horse performs a failing routine – exuding showmanship eroded by the effects of intimate and emotional neglect. 

Amidst the tired routine, a moment of reflection allows the workhorse to finally acknowledge the manipulative quality of the partnership. At this moment the horse discovers through an action of self-love, one can transform from a workhorse into a real person once again.


How to Become Real Performance and Exhibition photographs taken by Joshua McDevitt