Ligia Lewis, A Plot A Scandal, 2022
Ligia Lewis: study now steady
Sep 30, 2023 – Feb 4, 2024
Center for Art, Research and Alliances / CARA
New York, USA

This fall CARA will be hosting the first solo exhibition of artist and choreographer Ligia Lewis (b. 1983, Santo Domingo; lives and works in Berlin). Titled study now steady, the exhibition will be on view September 30, 2023 through February 4, 2024, presenting one live commission, a series of rehearsal/performances, as well as newly commissioned video work.

In study now steady time loops and bends. Dance, in Lewis’s work, is an exploration of embodiment, an encounter that disrupts linear time, where performers and spectators must attend to the body as both a troubled archive and a polyphonic chorus. An assembly of dancers and performers in shared space construct an alternative temporality where cultural and racial hierarchies are exposed and destabilized, while the question “Is transformation possible?” lingers, unanswered.

Lewis’s performances animate the psychic dimensions of seeing and being seen. She embraces fugitivity in the face of entrenched and seemingly intractable systems of domination. Her choreographic explorations take into consideration the challenges of representation inside the deathly scripts of racialization, so normalized in the everyday, in that which has been made all-too-familiar. Through this embodied struggle, what remains are urgent ruminations on repair, revenge, and the possibilities of other forms of life, beyond that which we know.

In the newly commissioned film A Plot A Scandal, on view at CARA as part of study now steady, Lewis conjures the im/possibilities of repair inside the ongoing histories of continued dispossession. Restaged within a medieval town in Rimini called Santarcangelo, the film, which departs from the stage work of the same name, utilizes this historical backdrop to share contents of The Code Noir, Enlightenment theory, and a plot of a slave rebellion in Cuba, as well as the story of Lewis’s great grandmother, bringing to the fore a pointed critique of the entanglement between “natural rights” and property. In a comedic and poetic fashion, the film challenges the very logic of land as property.

The show’s live commission, study now steady, is a rehearsal made durational, exposing the practices that have given form to stage and film works such as minor matter (2016), Still Not Still (2021) , Water Will (in Melody) (2018), and deader than dead (2020). “Dancing,” as Lewis says “[produces] its own theoretical framework, its own set of rules, and its own ethos, coherent to itself”.

Through dark humor and in the form of a critique, Lewis mobilizes embodied activations that act as unrelenting reminders that “ghosts don’t die so easily”.

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