Scalable Skeletal Escalator


Scalable Skeletal Escalator is an experimental live art work conceived by Isabel Lewis in the form of a holobiont, a multi-organismic assemblage, like the human body itself, shuddering and shaking into being. This mode of exhibition-making draws inspiration from evolutionary biologist Dr. Lynn Margulis’ emphasis on cooperative and symbiotic relationships between species as the driving force of evolution. The themes of the work are continuous with its form reflecting on potential human futures. Continuing in the vein of Isabel Lewis’ practice of questioning the disembodied thought systems of the West which deny the body of “livingness” in the deadlock of idealism/materialism, this work invites collaborators and visitors on a participatory epistemological quest to re(dis)cover the body by rehabilitating our human sensorium in order that we might enhance living rather than alienate ourselves from life.

Scalable Skeletal Escalator is made possible through the collaborative efforts of Dirk Bell / Mo Stern, Lara Dâmaso, The Field (Mirjam Jamuna Zweifel, Pierre Piton, Lucia Gugerli and Declan Whitaker, in cooperation with Tanzhaus Zürich), LABOUR (Colin Hacklander and Farahnaz Hatam), Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, Rafał Pierzyński, Mathias Ringgenberg, Sissel Tolaas, Juliette Uzor, Marcelo Alcaide and Yolanda Zobel. It is a live art work that moves through four levels of Löwenbräukunst, where Kunsthalle Zürich is located. The work is created with the support of Tanzhaus Zürich; thanks also to Callie's Berlin and Schauspielhaus Zürich.

Biography: Isabel Lewis (b.1981, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) is a Berlin-based artist whose career began in the context of contemporary dance. An erstwhile resident of New York, her dance works have been shown at The Kitchen, Dance Theater Workshop, New Museum Movement Research at Judson Church, Dancespace Project at St. Mark’s Church, PS 122 and Dia Foundation among others. In recent years her works have broken with the limitations of a single mode of presentation and are hybrid forms involving lecture, movement, music, food, smell and more. These have been experienced at venues and events including the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Liverpool Biennial, the Institute of Contemporary Arts London (ICA), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Turin, Tanz im August, Berlin, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Palais de Tokyo, Tate Modern London, Ming Contemporary Art Museum Shanghai, Gropius Bau, Berlin, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, and Philadelphia Art Alliance. Lewis’ practice includes long-standing collaborations with smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas, Berlin-based musical entity LABOUR, painter and ceramicist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, visual artist Dirk Bell, theorist and classics scholar Brooke Holmes and Juan Chacón of the architecture collective Zuloark.

This video was created for the Engadin Art Talks 2021. Isabel Lewis speaks about her project at Kunsthalle Zürich, while the filmed images document the mutifaceted nature of Scalable Skeletal Escalator:

The stage version of Scalable Skeletal Escalator was to be performed at Tanzhaus Zürich this spring, but the venue remains closed due to Covid-19 regulations. All the more reason to watch this wonderful trailer for the project:

Press information

For image enquiries, further information on the exhibition programme and interviews please contact Aoife Rosenmeyer: presse [​at​] or +41 (0)44 272 15 15