Lea Cetera

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What is my work about?

Emerging from a fine arts, theater and film-making background I work in video, sculpture and performance to produce temporal installations that examine the mediation of technology and the alienation of the human body. Through recent installations that include filmed performances, where projections of the “ghosted” human body wash over sculptural elements, I attempt to create an alienating/disorienting illusory effect that reflects an increasing loss of the corporeal gesture in the every day, the infinite attempt at calibrating the body to technology, as well as the entrapment of the human psyche within it; manipulating and playing with memory, space and time.


Artist Statement


My work explores the psychological spaces that objects can conjure, as well as the ability that objects have of absorbing or becoming imbued with power and meaning by the human psyche over time. The dynamic space that is created between objects and the body in my installations is informed by my years of work in experimental theater, performance and film. As a result I have a hybrid artistic practice in which I view my installations as sets, sculptures as props and video projections as performance. I am fascinated by the emotional and psychological fallout of a contemporary culture that is working towards a calibration of the body and technology. This is evidenced in my work via themes of voyeurism, the Internet, astral projection, art criticism, and in the broadest sense the experiential and emotional act of viewing.

Chance operation is a large part of my work resulting in ad-libbed and ad-hoc performance created “on the spot”. I tend to work with non-actors, as I am interested in how we perform for the every day and in this way the quotidian becomes a large part of my content. The process for these works is akin to that of a play-write or screenwriter, developing a new story, characters and setting for each piece, taking place in a constructed room or corner as if a trap or some kind of recursive, cyclical digital mode of existing. I build a narrative as I go, and therefore there are a lot of unknown factors when I enter a new work, only the armature of rules and parameters that I have set for myself. The installations are completely site specific, it is a one to one relationship with the viewer, and it is not Aristotelian theater. We are not peering through an imaginary fourth wall at the players, we are experiencing an illusory disjunct in time and space in real time together, the audience’s bodies break the projections creating crisp shadows, allowing for the absorption and implication of the viewer into the work.

I am interested in remaking the ready made so that it falls into the Uncanny Valley; recognizable objects (like slip cast coffee cups, water bottles, bronze croissants) that are reminiscent of the mass produced, but, like the video projections, are only replicas, or shells of their former selves, also seen in Balance Totem for Posturing, an arrangement of “ready made” objects thrown in with a Shaker Chair that I made by hand. Natural materials like ceramic, wood, bamboo, marble, steel, stone, bronze are incorporated into my sculptures in order to ground them in the physical. A 4”x5” reflection hologram in Angle of Repose is a tiny nod to the physics of perception. The actions that occur in the installations can be banal and mundane; the performers walk around and look at the objects as one among the viewers. Masking and shifting of subjectivity and content happen in most works, for example in Observational Comedy, the instances where performers shift from viewing, to talking, to performing alongside and even installing the artworks themselves reflects themes of labor, revealing not only the artifice of display but also the possible states and psychological shifts that can occur around the life-span of these objects. In most recent installation Find Local Gourds Now, the main dialogue between two protagonists is directly sourced from “click bait”, ubiquitous phrases on the Internet designed to aggressively attract your attention. The dialogue consists of link titles that have been cut up and re-organized, resulting in an absurdist, nonsense conversation. Lines range from “Find local gourds now at discount prices”, “Eight serial killers that are making you dumber” to “Bucket lists that have grossed over one billion dollars”. The dialogue is absurd, yet the actors are performing them in the most normal conversational manner possible, creating an absurdist digital performative game. Coffee cups, water bottles, screens, tables, chairs and other object props make repeated cameos in many installations. These functional objects facilitate our daily psychological existence. Clusters of cups and bottles appear on objects, corners and tables, detritus that accumulates on a daily basis. These installations are a push and pull between the digital cognizance and the physical. The ready-made, the fetish object and object fetish are mixed up, toyed with and re-presented in these installations to ask the viewer to re-evaluate their relationship to the physical world around them.


Columbia University, School of the Arts, Visual Arts, MFA

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, School of Art, BFA

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, summer abroad


Kala Art Institute Fellowship, Berkeley, CA

Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Emergency Grant

Mildred’s Lane, Beach Lake, PA

Elliot Lash Memorial Prize for Excellence in Sculpture, Cooper Union School of Art
Full Tuition Scholarship, The Cooper Union School of Art

Sprawl, Project Space, Art in General, New York, NY

Observational Comedy, Southard Reid, London, UK

Surface Support, Signal, Brooklyn, NY
Name It by Trying to Name It: Open Sessions 2014-15, The Drawing Center, New York, NY

In Response: Other Primary Structures, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY

Where 1, Where, Brooklyn, NY
Ajar, Reverse Space, Brooklyn, NY
We Seem to Still be Moving, Simone Subal, New York, NY
Coded Conduct, Pilar Corrias, London, UK
Double Life: Sculpture Center’s In Practice program, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY

High Desert Test Sites, Andy’s Gamma Gulch Parcel, Joshua Tree, CA
New Wight Biennial 2012, New Wight Gallery, Broad Art Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
MFA Thesis Exhibition, Fischer Landau Center, Columbia University, New York, NY

First-Year MFA Exhibition, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY

PortugalArte ’10 Biennial, Freedom of Expression, Portuguese Pavilion, Lisbon, Portugal

On From Here, Guild and Greyshkul Gallery, New York, NY

Flex Your Textiles, John Connelly Presents, New York, NY
Speed Limit, A participatory history in Women’s Art, LMCC, New York, NY

Disjecta Contemporary Art Space, “OBE (Outer Body Experience)” Portland, OR


Rose Auditorium, Cooper Union Alumni Film Festival, The Cooper Union, New York, NY

Anthology Film Archives, New Filmmakers NY Festival, New York, NY
Millennium Film, Debut of Vibrant Futures: Episodes Two and Three, New York, NY

The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church, Friday Night Series, New York, NY

Guild and Greyshkul Gallery, Screening of Vibrant Futures, New York, NY
Friday Night Series: The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church, Cartharsis, New York, NY

Theater for the New City, Adventures of the Aesthetic, New York, NY

Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Åredalens Folkhögskola, Östersund, Sweden
Massachusetts College of Art and Design, School of Interrelated Media, Boston, MA
School of the Damned, Good Job Gallery, London, UK

Cooper Union School of Art, New York, NY

Adams, Abraham “Ajar”, Critics Picks, Artforum.com, October 2013
Chappa, Kristen “Double Life”, Catalogue, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY January 2013

Smith, Roberta “A Gallery Goes Out In A Burst Of Energy.” New York Times 7 February 2009: C5



https://vimeo.com/116517238 OBE