CineLab • International Seminar

On display: the aesthetics and politics of representation

Sarah Lewis-Cappellari

‘What does it mean to live in a world created in someone else’s image?’
—Ligia Lewis

‘The most political decision you make is where you direct people’s eyes.’
—Wim Wenders

‘The forming of the five senses is a labor of the entire history of the world down to the present.’
—Karl Marx

The seminar introduces the concept of display as a form of knowledge production and entertainment. By exploring sites of exhibit such as films, museums, the lecture halls of science, the theatrical stage, landscape painting, and sporting events like the Paralympics we will interrogate the political, cultural, historical, and social implications of how we see what we see and the narratives we construct that enable and are enabled by such viewing. The course applies performance as a medium to interrogate constructions of the gaze, questions of representation and (in)authenticity, and how the spectator and the spectacle are constituted, for example, through intersecting narratives of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and speciation.


Sarah Lewis-Cappellari is a researcher, dramaturg and teacher whose work engages the interface of performance, contemporary art, colonial visual economies and Black and Caribbean Studies. Lewis-Cappellari recently received a PhD in Performance Studies from UCLA. Previously she was based in Berlin, where she worked with the art & science collective Mobile Academy Berlin as one of its primary curators and researchers. Sarah has also researched and worked with collaborative art practices as a member of the performance collective LEWIS FOREVER (which presented work at Performance Space 122 and the New Museum in NYC, among other venues), and independently with SOIT in Brussels, Agora and Sophiensaele in Berlin and Tanzhaus NRW in Düsseldorf.

Registration is free but limited to the number of seats available. Please send an email with a short CV to by 14.01.2024. Confirmation of registration will be sent by email. The seminar will be held in English.

This seminar is organised in the framework of the second edition of Problematising reality – Encounters between art and philosophy, which is a partnership between CAM / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, IFILNOVA (CineLab) / FCSH / UNL and Maumaus / Lumiar Cité. It’s a series of six discussion sessions and four seminars taking place at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, focusing on the moment when art and philosophy establish productive dialogues, proposing diverse approaches to contemporary thought.

Event supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e para a Tecnologia) of the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science under the project UIDB/00183/2020 and UIDP/00183/2020.