Total Romance: Partial Repair
The visual artist, choreographer and dancer Isabel Lewis employs an expanded choreographic practice that centres on producing affective experiences of the body, activating all the senses. In her work, Lewis questions the stories, conventions and tools which we use to shape our thought figures and body habits. But her artistic approach provides not only a criticism or deconstruction of existing body conventions and conceptual methods but in fact models alternative suggestions. In her opinion, every format allows us to give order to the sensual and she sees it as a deeply political question whether we engage with a format or not, and how we engage.
“Total Romance, Partial Repair” reflects the origins of European humanism and researches alternative concepts of being human. To this end, Lewis examines the aesthetic techniques of Baroque, deconstructing, exaggerating and exploring its subversive potentials and limits. She spans an arc from the micro-cellular level of contemporary epigenetic research to tracing the global pathways that Baroque travelled to spread throughout colonialized countries. Lewis is particularly interested in the forms of ornamentation which she explores in her choreography through the interaction of movement, sound, lighting and scenography.
In “Total Romance, Partial Repair”, the theatre space becomes the starting point from where the work expands towards its fringes and spills over into its immediate surroundings, the loading docks and the parking space of the Spinnerei as well as the city of Leipzig. By installing subtle performative gestures, clues and sounds and by dividing the spaces and framing the views by monitors and set elements, Lewis creates a kind of spatialized theatrical performance. “Total Romance, Partial Repair” plays with strategies of presentation and representation, proposing alternative forms of engaging with the location, the architecture, the self and society.
Isabel Lewis comes from the Dominican Republic and lives in Berlin. Previously, she worked in New York for several years as a dancer, performer and choreographer. Over the past years, she increasingly opened up the limitations of distinct modes of presentation, which led to the emergence of mixed forms with elements of lecture performance, dance pieces, music, food, smell and other forms. Isabel Lewis’ practice is based on her long-term cooperation with the smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas, the Berlin-based entity LABOUR, the painter and ceramist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, the visual artist Dirk Bell, the theoretician and classics scholar Brooke Holmes and Juan Chacón of the architectural collective Zuloark. Isabel Lewis has been a professor for performance at HGB Leipzig since 2021.