Light Body

Light Body , 2016 .  Performance. A commission by Isabella Rossellini, Brookhaven Hamlet, New York. Photo credit: Ira Lippke.

Light Body, 2016. Performance. A commission by Isabella Rossellini, Brookhaven Hamlet, New York. Photo credit: Ira Lippke.

Lia Chavez: Light Body is a commission by Isabella Rossellini and the inaugural performance in an ongoing series showcasing some of today’s most celebrated contemporary artists at Rossellini’s farm.

For Light Body — Chavez’s first live dance performance — the artist leads a balletic procession of effulgent bodies at sunset. She appropriates the practice of contemplative walking, which she encountered during an artistic pilgrimage to meditate in the cave monasteries of the Himalayas.

Light Body refers to the practice in which Tibetan Buddhist meditation gurus transform their physical bodies into new, rainbow-colored energy forms after many years of practice. For her performance, Chavez imagines this advancement into another realm through a process of visual choreography which conceives the live figure within the art-historical tension between pictorial form and abstraction. “This performance meditates on the primordial state which has no form but is capable of expressing all form,” says Chavez. 

The performance marks her emergence from a 40-day vow of silence. Inspired by John Cage’s experiments with sensory deprivation and historical accounts of activating the light body through deep meditation, Chavez has drawn upon the mystical concept of “feasting on light” — a reference to the Yogic practice of sustaining the physical and energetic bodies with meditation and the breath. 

This intimate process of plumbing the formal synergies between optics, meditation, and improvisational dance is an ongoing theme for Chavez, who developed and documented a substantial body of performances for the camera, entitled A Thousand Rainbows. This body of photographic work was released in book form by Damiani in 2013. The publication featured a scholarly essay by visual culture critic Andrea Codrington Lippke, who contributes a new essay to the catalogue for Light Body.

Costuming for this performance is generously provided by the renowned fashion designer Mary Katrantzou.

The Farm of Isabella Rossellini produces organic crops and natural honey, and is home to many rare and distinctive breeds of bird. The Farm is part of the Peconic Land Trust, a nonprofit organization established to ensure the protection of Long Island’s agricultural heritage.

Artistic Director and Performer: Lia Chavez
Additional Performers: Troy Ogilvie and Djassi daCosta Johnson
Producers: Beverly Allan and Nur El Shami
Costume Designer: Mary Katrantzou
Stylist: Richard Ives
Makeup Artist: Virginia Linzee
Curatorial Consultant: Tali Wertheimer
Essayist: Andrea Codrington Lippke
Documentation: Ira Lippke
Presenter: Isabella Rossellini