City Laments

The performance was created for the 2020 Project Space Festival Juárez which took place in October 2020.



This performance is inspired by Sumerian city laments. Composed around 2000BC, these lamentations are unique to Mesopotamian cultures. They were written by Sumerians to their cities (Ur, Uruk, Sumer, Eridu and Nippur) after the cities were devastated, mostly by war.

You should not practice this performance more than once a year.

The best times to practice it are a couple of weeks before your birthday or during high summer when sweaty nights bring uncomfortable dreams. But you can find your own suitable time in the year to practice it.


Dedicate the mornings of a week to a ruined city. If you wake up unintentionally after 4 a.m, perfect, you can dedicate the uneasy long minutes before you go back to sleep to the performance.

The city might be an actual city where you or someone close to you lived. It can also be the ghost topography of a ruined city that lies below where you are or where you once were. It can also be a community, or a web of thoughts. However, remember that a city, any city, can only be a city if it is vast enough to contain opposites and contradictions. The ruined city might still stand, yet it is ruined.

Day 1:
Dedicate your morning to the ruined city.
Remember the topography outside the city.
Remember the gates of the city.
Remember the gate keepers.
Remember those who sat at the gate.
Remember yourself at the gate.

Day 2:
Dedicate your morning to the ruined city.
Remember the topography of the city.
Remember your home.
Remember you had no home.
Remember those who had no home.
Remember going home.

Day 3:
Dedicate your morning to the ruined city.
Remember yourself at a festival (or a party, or a special day) in the city.
Remember the people you met at the festival.
Remember yourself right after the festival ended.

Day 4:
Dedicate your morning to the ruined city.
Remember the wrongdoings of that city.
Remember yourself doing wrong in that city.

Day 5:
Dedicate your morning to the ruined city.
Remember why that city is ruined.
Remember what wrongs have been done to the city.

Day 6:
Dedicate your morning to the ruined city.
The city is in ruins.

Reading suggestions:
The City by C. P. Cavafy
If You Should Go by Countee Cullen
Move to the city by Nathaniel Bellows
The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James

Music Playlist:
Ingrata – Cesaria Evora
Lamentations of Jeremiah – Thomas Tallis
The Lament over the ruined city of Ur – Luboš Fišer
Hey, Hey, Hey, Brother – John Angaiak
Old Man Intuit – Willie Thrasher
Kol Nidrei – Koenigsberg tradition – Rinat Choir
The Sprawl (Flatland) – Arcade Fire
Kukushka – Viktor Tsoi
Bordi Az Yadam – Vigen & Delkash