Center for Art,
Research and Alliances
September 30, 2023 – February 4, 2024

Ligia Lewis: study now steady

Exhibition Cover

study now steady, the first solo exhibition of artist and choreographer Ligia Lewis (b. 1983, Santo Domingo; lives and works in Berlin), is on view at CARA through February 4, 2024, presenting one live commission, 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.

Ligia Lewis, A Plot A Scandal (2023)
Ligia Lewis, A Plot A Scandal (2023)
Ligia Lewis, A Plot A Scandal (2023)
Ligia Lewis, A Plot A Scandal (2023)
Ligia Lewis, A Plot A Scandal (2023)
Ligia Lewis, A Plot A Scandal (2023)

A Plot A Scandal conjures and taunts specters of history and embodied memory, including Enlightenment thinker and slave trade beneficiary John Locke, Cuban artist and revolutionary José Aponte, and Lewis’s own great-grandmother Lolón Zapata. Lewis and performer Corey Scott-Gilbert dance between seeing and being seen. Through histories of marronage and the tropes of racialization, they invoke, in full irreverence, a desire to “fuck up the plot.” The word “plot” in this haunting takes on a triple meaning—at once a reference to narrative structure and linearity; an allusion to property relations and “plots of land” as theorized by Locke; and a scheme or plan, an attempt at fugitivity and revenge. Locke’s Enlightenment ideas of humanity, freedom, and liberty, rooted in profoundly violent conceptions of whiteness and property, are central, terrifying fictions that Ligia explores and subverts through A Plot A Scandal.

The show's live commission, study now steady, is a series of choreographic studies, exposing the scores and 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.”

study now steady is curated by Manuela Moscoso, Executive Director and Chief Curator, with production and exhibition design by Agustin Schang, and curatorial assistance by Marian Chudnovsky.

Images by Liz Ligon

Ligia Lewis: study now steady includes live, choreographic studies throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Studies occur weekly at the following times:
Thursday: 4-7 pm
Friday: 3- 6 pm
Saturday: 3- 6 pm
Sunday: 3- 6pm

Duration: Three 50 min studies (10 min breaks).

Final live study: Saturday, February 3, 2024 from 3-6 pm

Learn more here.

About Ligia Lewis

Ligia Lewis works as an artist, choreographer, and dancer conceiving and directing experimental performances. Her works are presented either on stage, in a gallery, in a museum, or in a film or exhibition format. Lewis’s works are often marked by physical and emotional intensities by which comedy and tragedy collide. Through her work, performer and audience alike confront a confluence of processes that disrupt normative conceptions of the body while she negotiates the ghostly traces of history, memory, and the un/known. Her expressive concepts give form to movement, speech, affects, thoughts, relations, and utterances within a highly defined choreographic landscape. 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. Her work slides between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Lewis’s 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” (2020), the trilogy: “Water Will (in Melody)” (2018), “minor matter” (2016), and “Sorrow Swag” (2014). In the fall, she will open her first solo exhibition, “study now steady” at CARA in NYC (US). A survey of her stage works will be presented at HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin, DE) in November 2023.

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” (, Tanz im August, 2011 and Basel Liste, 2014).

Her work was presented in multiple venues across Europe, the US, and abroad including Short Theater Festival (Prisma), Rome; Springdance Festival, Utrecht; MOCA, Los Angeles; HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin; Tanzquartier, Vienna; MCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Wien Modern, Vienna; 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; My Wild Flag, Stockholm; 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). Her work has been presented in multiple venues and is currently touring.

Exhibition Installation Credits:
AV Consultant: Matthew Shattuck
Construction: Rachel Cha-os
Painting: Steven Doyle
Graphic Production: Full Point Graphics
Graphic Design: The Rodina

deader than dead (2020) Credits:
deader than dead by Ligia Lewis (concept, artistic direction, choreography, set design) in creation with: Performers: Ligia Lewis, Jasper Marsalis, Jasmine Orpilla, and 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, and 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. Film Credits: Produced by Reza Monahan Studio and Jim Fetterley. Director: Ligia Lewis. 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 and Steven Wetrich. Sound designer/sound mixer: Christina Nguyen.

A Plot A Scandal (2023) Credits:
A Plot A Scandal, film by Ligia Lewis. Featuring Corey Scott-Gilbert and Ligia Lewis. Scored by George Lewis Jr (AKA Twin Shadow) and Wynne Bennett. Commissioned by Center for Art, Research and Alliances (CARA). Concept, writing, and directing by Ligia Lewis. Produced by Céline Rodrigues Monteiro. Director of Photography: Moritz Freudenberg. Production Design: Ligia Lewis and Moritiz Freudenberg. Dramaturgy for Film: Dragana Jovanovic. Composer:   George Lewis Jr (AKA Twin Shadow) and Wynne Bennett. Drums: Guillermo E. Brown. Costume Design: Sadak. Research/Dramaturgy: Sarah Lewis-Cappellari. Voice over: George Lewis Jr and Ligia Lewis. Gaffer: Robert Samplawski. Light Assistants: Elisabeth Rooth and Manuel Rossi. Camera Assistant: Ferdinand Klotzky. Editor: Dragana Jovanovic. Sound Design: George Lewis Jr. Colorist: Moritz Freudenberg. Title Design: GOOI/ a23 Studio House.
Special thanks: Justin Franics Kennedy, Sarah Lewis-Cappellari, Joseph Wegmann, Anton Kats,Giacomo Benni, Santarcangelo Festival, Town of Santarcangelo, Teatro Amintore Galli, Uferstudios Berlin, Dino.Berlin, FILMGERÄTEVERLEIH, See You rent GmbH, Combo.