deader than dead

It is reasonable to situate the world on the verge of sense and NON-sense You go round and round and then you stop and you fall to the ground What is deader than dead? (Ligia Lewis)

Originally conceived in 2020 for the Hammer Museum, the creation of this piece began with an intrigue-based inquiry into deadpan, an impassive mannerism deployed in comedic fashion to illustrate emotional distance. Utilizing this expression as a type of stasis, Lewis developed a film that plays on loop, presented online and in exhibition spaces.

The newly developed live version, which was last seen in Mexico and Luxembourg now has three performers. In this new performance 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.

The work is full of play but is also a meditation on ‘playing,’ or acting, as well as on tragedy’s recurring cycles and familiarity within Black experience. Also presented as a meditation on touch as an act of both care and violence. The work is built in the form of a musical lament, a protracted complaint on loop performed ad infinitum, decomposing itself along the way.

* Commissioned and produced by: Made in L.A. 2020 / Hammer Museum. Made in L.A. 2020: a version is organized by the Hammer Museum in partnership with The Huntington Library, Art Museum, Botanical Gardens and Ligia Lewis

* Additional support provided by: Human Resources, Los Angeles

Concept, choreography, direction, scenic/light design, performance
Ligia Lewis

Performance (Film)
Ligia Lewis, Jasper Marsalis, Jasmine Orpilla, Austyn Rich

Performance (Live version)
Cassie Augusta Jørgensen, Justin F. Kennedy, Damian Rebgetz

Sound dramaturgy, design, and film score
Slauson Malone, with excerpts by S. McKenna

Costume design
Marta Martino

Lighting technician, sound technician
Joseph Wegmann

Ligia Lewis, Ian Randolph, Shakespeare, and Ian McKellen on Shakespeare

Guillaume de Machaut, “Complainte: Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure (Le remède de Fortune),” ca. 1340s

Gabrielle Curebal

Administration (Tour)
Julia Leonhardt

Management, production & distribution
Godlive Lawani–Stane Performing Arts Management

Photos 1 & 2: Ligia Lewis, Still from deader than dead, 2020. Mixed-media performance documented on HD video, color, sound. 19:39 min. Courtesy of the artist. Photo 3 @Mudam Luxembourg, curated by Joel Valabrega, 2023 ©Fabrizio Vatieri. Photo 4 by Roberto Ruiz

Ligia Lewis, Still from deader than dead, 2020 Mixed-media performance documented on HD video, color, sound. 19:39 min. Courtesy of the artist
Ligia Lewis, Still from deader than dead, 2020 Courtesy of the artist
Still(s) of the performance Ligia Lewis, deader than dead, Mudam Luxembourg, curated by Joel Valabrega, 2023 ©Fabrizio Vatieri
deader than dead, Ligia Lewis | Photo by Roberto Ruiz
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