A multimedia performance that meditates collaboratively on the sensuality of C.P. Cavafy.

May 3, 2023
7:00 pm
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For information and tickets to the May 4th Archive of Desire performance, click here.

In Archive of Desire, Robin Coste Lewis, Julie Mehretu, Vijay Iyer, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Charlotte Brathwaite meditate collaboratively on the sensuality of C. P. Cavafy, diaspora, and the liminal spaces present everywhere in his work. The evening draws inspiration from Cavafy’s archive, processing the sonic, visual, and cultural tones found in his poetry through recitation, live music, electronics, and new visual work.

This event is part of the “Archive of Desire” festival by the Onassis Foundation. "Archive of Desire" is curated by composer Paola Prestini, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of National Sawdust, and under the creative direction of Afroditi Panagiotakou, Onassis Foundation’s Director of Culture.



Robin Coste Lewis is the former Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Her debut collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf, 2015), won the National Book Award in 2015. She earned her MFA in poetry from NYU, another master’s degree from Harvard In Sanskrit and theology; as well as a PhD in poetry and visual studies from the University of Southern California. Lewis is the Writer-in-Residence at the University of Southern California’s PhD Program in Creative Writing, and a Ford Foundation Scholar-in-Residence this year at the Museum of Modern Art. Her latest book, To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness (Knopf, 2022) was just published this winter. Born in Compton, her family is from New Orleans.


Julie Mehretu is a world-renowned painter who lives and works in New York City. In exploring palimpsests of history, from geological time to a modern-day phenomenology of the social, Julie Mehretu's paintings, prints, and drawings engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior, and the psychogeography of space. She is the recipient of The MacArthur Award (2005) and the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). Mehretu’s work has been exhibited extensively in museums and biennials and is represented in collections worldwide. A mid-career survey of Mehretu's work recently toured at LACMA (Los Angeles), High Museum (Atlanta), The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), and The Walker Museum of Art (Minneapolis) from 2019 to 2022. Mehretu is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and The National Academy of Design. Her global representative is Marian Goodman Gallery.


Described by “The New York Times” as a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway,” composer-pianist Vijay Iyer is one of the leading music-makers of his generation. His honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, a Grammy nomination, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. His most recent album, a trio session with drummer Tyshawn Sorey and bassist Linda May Han Oh titled “Uneasy” (ECM Records, 2021), was named Best New Music in “Pitchfork” and was hailed by “The New Yorker” as “a triumph of small-group interplay and fertile invention.”


Jeffrey Zeigler has released dozens of albums on Nonesuch Records, Deutsche Grammophon, Cantaloupe, and Smithsonian Folkways and has appeared with Norah Jones on her album “Not Too Late” on Blue Note Records. Zeigler’s multifaceted career has led to collaborations with a wide array of artists from Yo-Yo Ma and Tanya Tagaq to Philip Glass and John Zorn and from Laurie Anderson to Siddhartha Mukherjee.

While serving as the cellist of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet for eight seasons, Zeigler was the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the Grammys, and The Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award. Jeffrey Zeigler was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Chamber Music and Innovation at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.


Creator and Director Charlotte Brathwaite’s genre-defying work illuminates the realities and dreams of marginalized people; people whose stories have been silenced, disappeared, and ignored. Dealing with subject matter from the historical past to the distant future, she brings to light issues of justice, race, power, and the complexities of the human condition. A director of classical texts, multimedia, site-specific work, dance, opera, concert, film, and installations presented in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia – Brathwaite’s work lives in the deep time of aural/oral history and creates an immersive experience for audience and performer alike. Awards: Creative Capital, United States Artist, Map Fund, Princess Grace and others. MFA: Yale.  www.charlottebrathwaite.com

C. P. Cavafy travels to New York. “Archive of Desire” is a festival that involves a multitude of actions inspired by the life and work of the Alexandrian poet, seeking to turn the spotlight on his work through an array of contemporary artistic endeavors that extend across the city. From April 28 to May 6, the interdisciplinary festival’s program includes a series of performances, digital art presentations, short film screenings, poetry readings, literary discussions, a visual rave, and many more live events curated by composer Paola Prestini, Artistic Director of National Sawdust, a non-profit organization for the promotion of contemporary music, and under the creative direction of Afroditi Panagiotakou, Onassis Foundation’s Director of Culture. LEARN MORE.

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May 3

The Onassis Foundation and National Sawdust present Archive of Desire: Robin Coste Lewis, Julie Mehretu, Vijay Iyer, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Charlotte Brathwaite