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Liliya Lifanova, Flight Over Wasteland, Commanding Women (dress rehearsal, 2017) (images courtesy the artist and Knockdown Center)

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

So begins “The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot’s 1922 poem that’s considered a landmark of Modernism and has inspired countless artists working across media and decades. The latest creator to be moved by it is Liliya Lifanova, who first encountered the poem several years ago and has since been “patiently and persistently writing the score, hand-crafting the sculptures, performative objects, paintings, drawings, and garments that will ‘frame’” her new project, Flight Over Wasteland, which debuts at the Knockdown Center this week.

Liliya Lifanova, “Hyacinth Girl,” fragment painting from Stacked Series, Folded Series (2017)

Eliot’s poem is renowned for its fragmentation — in addition to being broken into five sections, it’s also filled with a rich range of voices, allusions, imagery, and scenes. Lifanova’s work, a collaboration with composer Hiroya Miura and choreographer Davy Bisaro, will be similarly diffuse, with different pieces of the performance unfolding throughout Knockdown’s vast space. Verses from the original text will mingle with Miura’s composition, as the 15 actors perform Bisaro’s movements amid Lifanova’s minimal, bleached-looking objects meant to suggest a bird’s-eye view (and wear her similarly hued clothes). What’s more, in an effort to further “reflect the complexity, brokenness, and collaged nature of the present moment,” Flight Over Wasteland will be viewable not only as a finished performance but in rehearsal in the preceding days. You can drop by on Wednesday to watch the group finish piecing together its process, then attend on Saturday to see how it works as a whole.

When: Wednesday, April 12–Sunday, April 16; performance on Saturday, April 15, 3pm ($16 advance; $20 at door)
Where: Knockdown Center (52-19 Flushing Avenue, Maspeth, Queens)

More info here.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...