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Student Showcase Archive

Joshua Leon

PhD Work

PhD work

The Sitting: (after) If this is a Man

The Shiva, the Jewish Mourning ritual, takes place over seven days, during which family and friends are invited to attend the home of the deceased, where the grieving family host, offering their home as the site for individuals to lament in a social setting, performing mourning communion.

The Sitting: (after) If This is a Man considers itself an embodied practice, that treats research as practice and practice as research, entangling these modes through a concern for ‘liveness’. This practice functions between the fields of institutional critique, memoir and theory. The following document employs the date as a mechanism to support the fluidity of this practice, treating the written document as a ‘memoir on the move’, within which pre-existing material forms found within the institutions that formulate citizenship and sociality, (law, religion, identity, being in public) are encountered, examined and experimented with. 

The practice of this project is set in motion by a combination of writing, public reading, exhibition making and gestures of hosting, fugitivity, restitution and communion. These practices and behaviours provide the fundamental framework for a methodology called Lamentology, which seeks to expand on the lament contained in the Shiva by blending art praxis and theoretical exegesis to examine questions contained within the address, the wound, the code, the conversation and modes of being, with a particular concern and understanding of these questions in relation to contemporary Jewishness. These questions are used to formulate a fluid theory on how to be a peripheral and transitory being, in particular within an art context. Deploying language as a tool and material, exchange as a medium, the proposal as form, collection as a method, and performative gestures.



  • Joshua Leon
  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Arts & Humanities Research, 2019–

  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Photography, 2017

  • My work develops out of a combination of writing, exhibition making and performativity. At the heart of this practice is in-depth research into lament, which I use to develop a methodology, that contains a network of complex questions, for producing work. As part of this methodology, I initiate works that are made in-continuum and in-situ. These concepts bind the notion of a practice produced live and in real time, during which the excesses and detritus of forms and materials are collected, re-organised and carried through the work as a record of past events and moments, whilst also constantly specifying both contemporary and historical sites. Each iteration of my work is then produced specifically for the site it is being exhibited in, situating the work with specific requirements related to space, place and context. 

    To achieve this, I work through a combination of private, collaborative and intimate gestures using reading, listening, hosting, the conversation, and the presentation of objects to articulate these. Such gestures include the collection of drinking glasses as mementos for conversations in public social sites (cafés, bars, restaurants, institutions, etc.), daily routine practices initiated within a space (mopping the floors, lighting candles, filling an empty glass with coffee), and using a sculptural intertextuality to produce objects.