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MEMORY LAB

Katt Lissard

Current & Ongoing Work

Metolong dam site. Photo by Jessica Meyer

Memory of a Drowning Landscape

Published on June 16, 2016

Memory of a Drowning Landscape: Community, Performance and Regeneration

Residency: March, 28th — April 23rd, 2016 Roma, Lesotho

In March and April, 2016 the first phase of an experiment in performing the resonance of place will begin in Lesotho, southern Africa. Memory of a Drowning Landscape will attempt to articulate the global threat of climate change by looking at a specific instance of local loss. The project will use the phenomenological frame of performance to explore the intangible cultural heritage lost to communities visually, acoustically and orally along the flooded Phuthiatšana River Valley in rural Lesotho – the end result of efforts to “cure” drought through the construction of the Metolong Dam. This intangible cultural heritage includes: stories, songs and dances; sites of ritual or spiritual power; local knowledge of plants and herbs; and the community’s “landscape map,” which was irrevocably transformed once the flooding began and the mnemonic devices people relied on to “place” themselves vanished.

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TransCultural Exchange Conference

Published on June 15, 2016

I’m on a workshop panel at the International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts this February 25th – 27th.

Presented by TransCultural Exchange at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and MIT

The Art of Connecting Worlds – Cultural Technologies & Sustainability

Friday February 26th, 1:00 -3:00 p.m.

Location: MIT / ACT at the E15-054, Rothschild Room

Presenters: Azra Aksamija, Artist, Architectural Historian and Assistant Professor, MIT Art, Culture and Technology Program and Janeil Engelstad, Artist and Founding Director, MAP – Make Art with Purpose with presentations by Susan Diachisin, Director, Center for Creative Connections, Dallas Museum of Art; Maja and Reuben Fowkes, Artists, Curators and Founders, Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art; Oto Hudec, multi-media Artist; Caroline Jones, Art Historian and Author; Katt Lissard, Artistic Director, Winter/Summer Institute; and Matthew Mazzotta, Conceptual Artist.

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Lesotho, Africa

Published on June 12, 2016

Much of my recent artistic work/life has been connected to Lesotho, Africa. Since January 2005, when I arrived on my first Fulbright to teach, research and direct shows at the National University in Roma, I’ve been navigating the tricky cultural terrain of the small, mountainous country and making collaborative projects there involving students, colleagues, professional performers, NGO staff and members of rural village communities. My time in Lesotho continues to transform the way I look at and understand the world. My creative work is an attempt to take those disparate observations, stories, lessons, absurdities and incongruities and feed them into performance, writing and community projects. One form that has taken is a performance, installation & archive project exploring the global impact of local loss called Split the Village.

Split the Village uses performance and installation to capture the essence of place and begin to build a transitory cultural archive. The project’s inspiration is a 14 kilometer stretch of the Phuthiatšana River valley in rural Lesotho which was flooded in late 2014 when construction of the Metolong Dam was complete.

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The spiraling Aloe polyphylla, pictured at the right and above, grows up to three feet across and is native only to the mountains of Lesotho. Like the country itself, it is unique and endangered.