____ (breath, blow, kiss)
               ___ (b,b, kiss) LIVE
       blowout i-iv

       ( breathingspace
       SEVERAL/GLOW (x y z
       CONVERSION (glow)
       continual (
               WE (   live
       RED PATIENCE        
               CHOR(EO GRAPH)VS
               Vessels (black, gold    
       Simple Form(ation)s
       Beginnings (Odyssey)




Solo Exhibition Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM)

CHOR(EOGRAPH)VSvideo, sound02:53 (excerpt)15:01 (original)2019

PERISTYLEexhibition viewconcrete sculptures2019-2020Photo: Gary Sexton Photography

Izidora l LETHE’s practice considers the layers of knowledge embodied in the figure of the émigré. For Peristyle, LETHE looks to the past, from the current context of global migrations and rising xenophobia, to imagine a reconfiguration of societal relations. LETHE’s transhistorical work considers some implications of diaspora, a condition experienced by Jewish and many other populations throughout millennia: how do values and material culture travel through eras, empires, and geographies? Who is granted the status of citizen? And how do dispersed peoples shape the social fabric? Presented in the Daniel Libeskind-designed Stephen and Maribelle Leavitt Yud Gallery, whose thirty-six scattered windows invoke dispersion, this exhibition envisions possibilities for life after diaspora.

LETHE investigates the persisting ideologies of antiquity through a meditation on ancient architectural forms. The peristyle was a colonnaded central courtyard originally designed for Ancient Greek temples and later, Ancient Roman domiciles. LETHE’s inspiration is one of the grandest, the Peristil, which functions as a central gathering place within the sprawling Ancient Roman palace of Emperor Diocletian. The title invokes the value systems and political structures of that ancient empire, in which subjects were bestowed or excluded from variable levels of citizenship and personhood. In a critique of both ancient and current global notions of citizenship, LETHE’s project proposes a transnational approach to political, interpersonal, and cultural relationships, beyond the hegemony of empire and the fortification of nation-states.
LETHE’s pillar-like, concrete sculptures allude to and diverge from the classical form of the peristyle, referencing the Brutalist architecture of Yugoslav modernism. This architectural style arose under, and is strongly associated with, a particular inter-ethnic Yugoslav socialism—a political system that emphasized both individualism and interdependence. In dialogue with the regimented architecture of the peristyle, LETHE’s structures are arranged as though they have congregated spontaneously in the gallery, producing a space in which visitors intermingle with the pillars rather than being contained by them. Also displayed in the gallery is a filmed choreography in which the performers hold durational poses, trembling. For LETHE, it is the performers’ “wide range of embodied cultural knowledge” which intervenes into the seemingly untouchable systems of power that would have excluded them from citizenship. The postures recall classical sculptures, but the palpable liveness of the performers’ bodies disrupts the neutrality, perfection, and universality encoded in those idealized forms. A mask of white mesh covers the figures’ faces, but their skin shows through, suggesting a transnational collectivity in which each individual’s specificity remains.

As we witness the highest migration numbers in history, LETHE offers a vision of coexistence structured by affinities rather than identities. The relationships proposed here stand for porosity, for heterogeneity, and against the exclusionary violence of nationalism.

Text written by Tash (Natasha) Matteson, Assistant Curator

exhibition view
concrete sculptures144 x 99 x 14 [in]
142 x 93 x 14 [in]
138 x 102 x 14 [in]
141 x 105 x 14 [in]
144 x 105 x 14 [in]
2019Photo: JKA Photography

PERISTYLEexhibition viewconcrete sculptures, video2019-2020Photo: JKA Photography

PERISTYLEexhibition view2019-2020Photo: Gary Sexton Photography

Costume Designer
Anna Vyshnyakova

Marcus Cheek – Vitamin Productions

Videography Assistant

Maya Wise

Editing Consultant

Silvan Hillmann
Guta Galli
Claudia Huenchuleo Paquien 
Bojana Ranković
Trina Michelle Robinson 
Tara Shannon
Anita Sulimanović 
Haru Agnes Urushido

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