Tag Archives: Ligia Lewis


Maybe within the museum dance can have another rhythm, temporality, be made more elusive. Dance could then escape the heavily prescribed regime often found in theaters, with concise beginnings and ends and a required length. Here then it could even be made “ghostly.”

Even then, I can attest to my general feelings of unease with the weight of History and the collecting of objects within the museological frame. This unease also bears on questions of site/sight as it pertains to the museum as space for viewing dance and performance. I have become increasingly more comfortable and, let’s say, provoked by the role of seeing and being seen by an audience. This relation to an audience is crucial and in large part where the resistance lies in my work. — Ligia Lewis*

As the Hammer Museum, the Huntington, and an art-starved public wait for the chance to experience Made in L.A. 2020: a version in person, artist and choreographer Ligia Lewis has created a video documenting deader than dead, her work for the biennial.

Performed by Jasper Marsalis, Jasmine Orpilla, Austyn Rich, and Lewis, deader than dead “began with an intrigue-based inquiry into deadpan, an impassive mannerism deployed in comedic fashion in order to illustrate emotional distance. Utilizing this expression as a type of stasis, Lewis initially developed a choreography for ten dancers that remained expressively flat or dead, resisting any narrative or representational hold tied to a climactic build or progression. Lewis had relegated deader than dead to this corner of the gallery (a kind of ‘dead’ space) where the dance would ostensibly emerge, although deadened in its repetition, limited in its fate, as it ricocheted from wall to wall.

“[Lewis] abandoned this recursive ensemble of death due to COVID-19, reducing the cast to four performers and pivoting to a more traditionally theatrical presentation. In this new work the dancers use Macbeth’s culminating soliloquy (‘Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,’ a reflection on repetition and meaninglessness) as the beginning of a work that unfolds in modular parts, each one an illustration or parody of death, stasis, and the void, each one tied to its own carefully selected soundtrack or sample.”**

See link below to watch the video.


Made in L.A.: a version

Hammer Museum and the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Gardens

Through March 2021.

*“Ligia Lewis and Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi in Conversation,” in Made in L.A. 2020: a version (Los Angeles: Hammer Museum; Munich: DelMonico-Prestel, 2020).

Ligia Lewis, deader than dead (2020), Made in L.A. 2020: a version. Video images © Ligia Lewis, courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles and Seoul.


The Los Angeles engagement of WATER WILL (IN MELODY)—part three of the acclaimed trilogy by Ligia Lewis, created with performers Susanne Sachsse, Dani Brown, and Titilayo Adebayo—is at Redcat this week for three evening shows and a Sunday matinee.

“In WATER WILL, light is more hypnotic, fantastical. The unsettling qualities emerge out of different choreographic proposals that always include sound and light. I like when something familiar suddenly touches upon the uncanny, or a series of activities or movements is interrupted, or sonic and visual shiftiness disrupts the flow of things and creates a hiccup in perception. 

“I indulge in nonlinear thinking and allow myself to riff or go in multiple directions in a piece. This lends itself to going sideways versus straight forward. I’m an intense reader of my own work, but not in an analytical sense. It’s an intuitive process.” — Ligia Lewis


Thursday through Saturday, September 12, 13, and 14, at 8:30 pm.

Sunday, September 15, at 3 pm.


631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

Ligia Lewis, Water Will (in Melody), photographs by Moritz Freudenberg, Julien Barbès, and Maria Baranova. Images courtesy and © Ligia Lewis, the performers, and the photographers.


In MINOR MATTER—part two of her Blue, Red, and White trilogy that began with Sorrow Swag—dancer-choreographer Ligia Lewis and her dancers Jonathan Gonzalez and Tiran Willemse interrogate the color red as a medium between love and rage. 

“[With this piece] I knew that I was working specifically with a very strong relationship to space, so I wanted to animate the periphery as much as possible. I knew that I was trying to interrogate a certain type of body and a certain type of embodiment. I was also trying to play with duration, or at least with creating a relationship to time that had an articulation of memory, and the present, and a sort of posturing towards the future… happening simultaneously…

“I have a very contentious relationship with abstraction, at least in early notions of abstraction being ‘pure’ or unadulterated form, so I go in knowing that I’m not entirely going to get that, or maybe not entirely interested in it, but it’s an interesting place to start for me…

“I was thinking about marks and traces in space, which is me thinking through what it means to be a marked body on stage. How do you leave a mark or a trace?” — Ligia Lewis interview with Emily Gastineau

Returning to L.A. after a preview at Human Resources—see Evan Moffitt’s review—MINOR MATTER is presented as part of this month’s Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art LA/LA.



Friday and Saturday, January 12 and 13, at 8 pm.

Sunday, January 14, at 6 pm.

Redcat, 631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

See Hannah Black on Lewis.

See Martha Kirszenbaum, interview with Ligia Lewis, Kaleidoscope 29 (Spring 2017).

Above: Kaleidoscope 29 (Spring 2017), Ligia Lewis cover.

Below: Ligia Lewisminor matter. Photographs by Martha Glenn.


Last night, Berlin-based performance artist Ligia Lewis presented her latest work, Minor Matter, at Human Resources L.A. Inspired by two jam-packed discussions at HRLA called “Decolonizing the White Box”, which addressed racism and exclusion in the art world, Lewis spent two weeks choreographing the piece and scoring it, with help from her brother George Lewis Jr. (also known as the popular alt-rocker Twin Shadow).


The piece began (and ended) with a single performer, Kenneth Nicholson, lying on his back in the corner reciting observations about the vast white space–light fixtures, wall sockets, cracks and smudges in the plaster. Suddenly the lights switched to red, and the piece’s title was repeatedly invoked: “minor” for the minority, “major” for the majority.

Nicholson traced lines on the cement floor along with his recitations, creating clear demarcations between the “majority” and the “other.” His script was a hodgepodge of humor, dark poetic observations, and historic ephemera like mourning songs and slave commands. Nicholson’s movements became more frenetic, as he patted his legs (as a police officer would check for weapons) and slamming himself against the wall, arms raised (in the position of being frisked).


At a poignant climax, Nicholson asked the crowd, standing at a microphone and backlit by the red and blue of police lights, “How did we get from this–” clenching his fist in the symbol of Black Power– “to this–” raising his hands in the “don’t shoot!” position of Ferguson activists.

It was then that the title gathered new meaning. The Black Lives Matter movement insists on something so seemingly inalienable that it trades the language of self-empowerment and separatism – central tenets of the Black Power movement – for an appeal to basic human decency. Yet for Black Americans who consistently face police violence, that’s no minor matter. It’s a question of life or death.

Note: this post has been up-dated on June 18, 2020 on the request of the author.