Ligia Lewis in conversation with Johanne Affricot and Piersandra Di Matteo
Is fugitive choreography possible? Is a bodily treatise on the process of continually escaping from different strategies of capture, one that is capable of making itself impregnable to the measurements of the white universalizing gaze, at all possible? And what of its logic of surveillance disguised among the ambiguous meshes of inclusion? Against the stereotypes that shape the bodies of Afro-diasporic people and communities, Ligia Lewis gives life to choreographic creations based on the mixing of registers, which are lodged in the hurt and in the wound, escaping the pacified horizons of emotion. In dialogue with the artist, Johanne Affricot – independent curator, founder and artistic director of Spazio GRIOT and GRIOTmag – and Piersandra Di Matteo – artistic director of Short Theatre –will cross the critical tensions, the emotional tones and the rhythms of movement that run through her performative works considered as “manoeuvres in the dark” (Tony Morrison).
The conversation is preceded by a screening of Ligia Lewis’s film.
deader than dead
Conceived, choreographed and directed by Ligia Lewis for Made in L.A. 2020, deader than dead was supposed to be a performance for the Hammer Museum, but was postponed due to the pandemic. The piece became a filmic creation for museums and galleries.
The film version of deader than dead features modular choreographic sequences, divided into chapters within which death, stasis and insignificance are investigated. Ligia Lewis questions the mechanism of the deadpan, that ostentatious display of indifference and impassivity that produces comic effects, as a result of emotional distance. Inspired by Macbeth’s final monologue which is whispered by the performers, deader than dead is a choreography on static nature, on resistance to being grasped, something that resists any temptation to narrate or represent. It is a performance and a reflection on play, on the familiarity that black communities have with tragedy, on time and its cycles, on physical contact as care or violence. The production lights up with hints of humour, summoning the concept of “corpsing”, a term of theatrical origin that refers to a performer breaking out in an involuntary laughter in a non-comic moment – an unscripted act that destroys an illusion.
The film is not so much about documenting the interpretation of a play as the potential inherent within a performance.
Commissioned and produced by Made in L.A. 2020 / Hammer Museum, Made in L.A. 2020: a
version is organized by Hammer Museum in partnership with The Huntington Library, Art Museum,
and Botanical Gardens
additional support provided by Human Resources, Los Angeles
Concept, art direction, choreography, set design Ligia Lewis
in creation with the performers Ligia Lewis, Jasper Marsalis, Jasmine Orpilla e Austyn Rich
sound dramaturgy, design and film score Slauson Malone, with excerpts by S McKenna
costume design Marta Martino
texts Ligia Lewis, Ian Randolph, Shakespeare e Ian McKellen
on Shakespeare Song Guillaume de Machaut, Complainte: Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure (Le
remède de Fortune), ca. 1340s
wigs Gabrielle Curebal
produced by Reza Monahan Studio e Jim Fetterley
director of photography / A-camera operator Sean Morris gaffer Eric S. Foster
B-camera operator Steven Wetrich
C-camera operator Alex Zarth
key grip Gilbert Charles Butler
production sound recorder Christopher Trueman
digital imaging technician Dillon Novak
production assistant Yusuke Ito
COVID compliance officer Jennifer Doyle
postproduction supervisor Reza Monahan Studio
postproduction coordinator Sean Morris
editors Ligia Lewis e Steven Wetrich
sound designer, sound mixer Christina Nguyen
still © Ligia Lewis
The screening of deader than dead and the talk Una coreografia fuggitiva (For a fugitive choreography)
are part of
PRISMA – Complaint, A Lyric
Ligia Lewis in the city of Rome
Ligia Lewis works as a choreographer and dancer. Lewis’s works, often marked by expressions of physical intensity and humor, seek to animate subjects through physical forms of expression that disrupt normative conceptions of the body while negotiating the ghostly traces of history, memory, and the unknown. Through choreography, she develops expressive concepts that give form to movements, speech, affects, thoughts, relations, utterances, and the bodies that hold them. Utilizing affect, empathy, and the sensate, her work continues to evoke the nuances of embodiment. Lewis recently finished works including: A Plot / A Scandal (2022), Still Not Still (2021), deader than dead (film and live performance) (2020), the trilogy including: Water Will (in Melody) (2018), minor matter (2016), and Sorrow Swag (2014). Her other works include: Sensation 1/This Interior (High Line Commission, 2019); so something happened, get over it; no, nothing happened, get with it (Jaou Tunis, 2018); Melancholy: A White Mellow Drama (Flax Fahrenheit, Palais de Tokyo, 2015); $$$ (Tanz im August, 2012); and Sensation 1 (sommer.bar, Tanz im August, 2011 and Basel Liste, 2014). Her work was presented in multiple venues across Europe and the US such as HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin; Tanzquartier, Vienna; MCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Kaaitheater, Brussels ; Arsenic, Lausanne ; High Line Art, New York; Performance Space, New York (2019); OGR Torino; Stedelijk, Amsterdam ; TATE Modern, London. Her work has also been presented at festivals and biennials such as the Ruhrtriennale, Bochum, Germany; Tanzplattform, Germany; Politik im Freien Theater Festival, Frankfurt; Liverpool Biennial; the Side Step Festival, Helsinki ; Biennale of Moving Images / Centre D’Art Contemporain, Geneva; Diver Festival, Tel Aviv; American Realness, New York; The Donaufestival, Krems, Austria and Julidans, Amsterdam. Lewis is the recipient of the Tabori Award in the category of Distinction (2021); a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants Award (2018); a Bessie Award for Outstanding Production for minor matter (2017); a Factory Artist residency at tanzhaus nrw (2017-19); and a Prix Jardin d’Europe from ImPulsTanz for Sorrow Swag (2015).
Johanne Affricot is an independent curator, cultural producer and artistic director. She founded GRIOTmag in 2015, an online platform which seeks out and covers artistic and cultural production by Africans and people of African descent as well as other marginalised groups of the global majority. Since 2015 she has conceived and curated a series of projects under the SPAZIO GRIOT platform. Among the various projects, she was the artistic director of Mirrors (2019) a performance project that was presented in Rome, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Dakar; co-curator of the solo exhibition of Liryc Dela Cruz, Il Mio Filippino: For Those Who Care To See (Mattatoio, Rome, 2023), and the group exhibition Sediments. After Memory, featuring Victor Fotso Nyie, Muna Mussie, Las Nietas de Nonó and Christian Offman (Mattatoio, Rome, 2022); she conceived and co-edited the limited edition zines Rage & Desire (SPAZIO GRIOT, 2022) and Exercises for the Imagination of a Space (SPAZIO GRIOT, 2022). She is invested in creating spaces as re-generative devices to collectively cultivate, discover, transform and disseminate strategies and practices of radical imagination that have a strong cultural and social impact.