deader than dead (2020)
April 2 & 3, Opening hours 2-6pm
in collaboration with zürich moves! Forever imbricated
installation / on loop during all opening hours
DJ-Set Tracey September April 2 , 6-10pm
Conceived, choreographed and directed by Ligia Lewis for Made in L.A. 2020, deader than dead was originally a performance planned for the Hammer Museum galleries that had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The piece eventually became a film, which has since been shown in various museums and galleries.
The creation of the performance began with an investigation into the irony and emotional distance induced by the deadpan, a comically deployed impassive attitude. From this form of immobility, Lewis first developed a choreography for 10 dancers who remained expressively flat or dead, resisting any narrative or figurative hold. Following the pandemic, the cast was reduced to 4 performers and the performance moved towards a more traditionally theatrical presentation.
For this filmed version, the dancers are inspired by the final monologue of Macbeth and deploy a modular form in which each chapter illustrates death, stasis or emptiness. The performance is also a reflection on play, on familiarity with tragedy in black communities, on time and its loops, on touch as both an act of care and violence. Nevertheless, Ligia Lewis infuses her proposal with a good dose of humour and comedic springs, taking up the concept of corpsing – a theatrical term for involuntary laughter at a non-comical moment. The film does not so much document the interpretation of a play as the potential of a performance.
On the occasion of the spring program at Shedhalle, deader than dead will be shown for the first time as an installation taking over the main exhibition space.
Concept, direction, choreography, set design: Ligia Lewis
Film production: Reza Monahan Studio and Jim Fetterley
Director of photography: Sean Morris
Editing: Ligia Lewis and Steven Wetrich
Performance: Ligia Lewis, Jasper Marsalis, Jasmine Orpilla and Austyn Rich
Texts: Ligia Lewis, Ian Randolph, Shakespeare and Ian McKellen
Sound design: Slauson Malone, excerpts from S. McKenna
Song: Guillaume de Machaut, “Complainte: Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure (Le rem de Fortune),” ca. 1340s
Costumes: Marta Martino
Accessories: Gabrielle Curebal
deader than dead was created for Made in L.A. 2020 / Hammer Museum, with the support of Human Resources, Los Angeles
Ligia Lewis works as a choreographer and dancer. Through choreography and embodied practice, she develops expressive concepts that give form to movements, speech, affects, thoughts, relations, utterances, and the bodies that hold them. Her choreographic work slides between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Held together by the logic of interdependence, disorder, and play, she creates space(s) for the emergent and the indeterminate while tending to the mundane. In her work sonic and visual metaphors meet the body, materializing the enigmatic, the poetic, and the dissonant. Lewis’s work continues to evoke the nuances of embodiment.
Her recent performance trilogy includes Water Will (in Melody) (2018), a gothic tale set in black and white; minor matter (2016), a poetic work illuminated by red; and Sorrow Swag (2014), presented in a saturated blue. 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). In 2020, Lewis produced deader than dead for Made in LA Biennial at the Hammer Museum, where Lewis created a film as a document of her latest performance piece. Her last stage work, Still Not Still (2021), is currently on tour.