Skip to content

Every Romance Is a Repair
Isabel Lewis, Dirk Bell


At the center of the exhibition Every Romance Is a Repair at HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark stands a group of works by Isabel Lewis and Dirk Bell, and for the performance Total Romance: Partial Repair that takes place there the stage set is an artwork, a medium for pictures, and an exhibition architecture all at the same time. The work group In Repair (2023) is presented at HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark for the first time as a large installation and is also the setting for the performance. This project can be seen as a continuation and further development of the performance series Give Rise To… and it endeavors to very actively and specifically address questions concerning the archiving and temporality of performance.

Opening: 21.6.2024, 6 pm

Cooperation: Callie’s Berlin, Residenz-Schauspiel Leipzig


Isabel Lewis in romance with Dirk Bell, Total Romance: Partial Repair, 2022

Photo: Harriet Meyer


In Repair (2023) is a continuation of the spatial strategies and concepts that Bell and Lewis (who are partners in life as well as art) have developed in previous exhibitions and works. This new installation articulates their shared interest in aesthetic gestures that address the body and all its senses, while also referring to the enactment of situations within the already enacted area of an exhibition. The performance Total Romance: Partial Repair plays with strategies of presentation and representation and proposes alternative ways of exploring spaces, architecture, the self, and community. The origins of European humanism and alternative concepts of the human are addressed here. Lewis and Bell look at the aesthetic techniques of the Baroque and they deconstruct, heighten, and critically investigate its subversive potential and its limits.

Beginning with the attraction that strategies and techniques of ornamentalism have for Baroque theater stages and their fantastic scenography, Bell and Lewis have developed a number of painted mobile canvases. Instead of taking up one privileged perspective, these canvases, as paintings that have neither a front nor a reverse side, offer several different views, while also constantly playing with light, transparency, and the acts of concealing and revealing. These mobile walls are porous membranes that flirt with the architecture and the space they are in and that invite visitors to participate actively instead of distancing and isolating them. These so-called Screens are a means to create spatial solutions, irrespective of whether this is in the context of exhibitions, theaters, or other situations. The artists see them as hosts” sharing something with the audience” via the situations they create on many different levels, while also often making that audience part of the work.

Dominican-American choreographer and artist Isabel Lewis trained in dance, literary criticism, and philosophy. She works on the aesthetics of experience and creates spaces for encounters between human and non-human protagonists. Lewis sees a radical potential in taking time, collecting oneself, exchanging physical experiences and knowledge, and intensively exploring oneself, others, and our built environments. Her works unfold a dramaturgy that adapts to dynamic live situations and that can be seen as a format for contemporary forms of storytelling. She sees herself as a host and her audience as the guests.

Exploring the medium of painting, artist Dirk Bell came to a degree to abandon the medium in its habitual manifestations and to address it via other artistic means. The result is impressive works with high levels of craftsmanship and also frequently suggestive and fantastic qualities, bringing together very different elements such as drawing, objects, and installations. This ultimately leads to exhibition situations that have a very marked performative character.

This project can be seen as a continuation and further development of the performance series Give Rise To… and it endeavors to very actively and specifically address questions concerning the archiving and temporality of performance.

Curator: Jan Tappe


Participating artists

Isabel Lewis

*1981 in Santo Domingo, lives in Berlin

Solo (a.o.): Galerie Wedding (2022, with Dirk Bell), Belvedere 21, Vienna (2021), Kunsthalle Zürich (2020), Gropius Bau, Berlin (2019), dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (2013), MoMA PS1, New York (2010), New Museum, New York (2009); Shows (a.o.): Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2023), 58. Biennale di Venezia (2019), 14th Sharjah Biennale (2019), Klöntal Triennale, Kunsthaus Glarus (2017) Tate Modern, London (2017), Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2017), Mofo, Contemporary Arts Tasmania, Hobart (2017), McaM Shanghai (2016), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2016), Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (2016), Dia Art Foundation, New York (2016), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2015), Gothenburg Biennial of Art (2015), Liverpool Biennale (2014), Kunsthalle Basel (2014), PS122, New York (2010)

Dirk Bell

*1969 in Munich, lives in Berlin

Solo (a.o.): Galerie Wedding (2022, with Isabel Lewis), BQ, Berlin (2022, 2016), QBBQ’s, Berlin (2019), Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York (2016), The Fireplace Project, New York (2015), SVIT, Prague (2013), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2011), The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2011), Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2009); Shows (a.o.): Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2023), Kewenig, Berlin (2022), Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (2022), BravinLee Programs, New York (2021), 1969 Gallery, New York (2021), Halle am Berghain, Berlin (2020), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2020), Sexauer Gallery, Berlin (2017), Halle für Kunst Lüneburg (2017), Haus Mödrath ­– Räume für Kunst, Kerpen (2017), Kunsthalle Bremerhaven (2016), Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK) (2015), Witte de With Centrum voor Hedendaagse Kunst, Rotterdam (2014), GAK Bremen (2013), Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2011), Drawing Room, London (2010), Chelsea Art Museum, New York (2009)


Downloads & Dates