In 2012 Aleya Lehmann Bench began a figurative series in the studio, for which she designed the costumes, set, and props. With that same practice in 2016 and 2017, Aleya used a combination of large and medium format cameras to create this latest body of work, “A very costly masque prepared but not shown”.
This series is excerpted from documents describing entertainments provided to Queen Elizabeth in 1575 during one of her progresses. Villages customarily provided the most lavish entertainments for her, seemingly simple theatrical productions that, from contemporary descriptions, must have appeared as pure magic, not only to her, but to all the villagers.
The artist, fascinated by these descriptions, imagines herself as a witness, breathing colored air into her mind’s eye. Much of early Renaissance street life—outdoor performances, etc.—was a response to the devastation of the plague: everyone’s dead so we can do whatever we want – the rise of individualism.