Ligia Lewis Échelle Humaine - deader than dead (film)


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.