Persona Inventory - “find-play”
Grasiele Sousa & Lucio Agra
"inventário de Personas - achar play" foi realizada em 2013 durante o mês da performance em Berlin. O texto que segue é um relato desta experiência, publicado originalmente no catálogo produzido pela artista curadora de nossa participação.
We believe that our participation in Nathalie Fahri’s curatorship, Distant Sites, during Berlin’s Performance month in 2013, is connected to a relatively recent movement that is becoming, more and more vigorous, in the Brazilian Performance art environment, which is the growing exchange that Brazilian artists have been doing with various “distant sites”. Since the beginning, when Nathalie invited us, this dimension of crossing the Atlantic and taking something from Brazil that could relate to the city and the space where we were heading for, became something of the utmost importance.
This dimension has unfolded countless times throughout our stay. As soon as we arrived, our first meeting with the group, that already occupied the ZKU Berlin, provided us with information about the place that went back to a time in which the city, fractured in two, housed in this territory the complex espionage negotiations between two worlds. We also knew that the ZKU had been an experimental place for architects and urbanists and that its condition of a displaced site was also a challenge. All of this related to an even more complex challenge: before travelling we had some photographic material of the Park, which illustrated some of its “corners”. With that, we learned about the chessboard, the red arch and some other fragmented aspects that would only begin to make sense when we arrived in Berlin. However, it was with those fragments that we had to make our proposal.
We then thought about using, with different purposes, a dynamic analogous to that presented in the last performative works of Hélio Oiticica, before his death. They were a series of works entitled “Poetic-Urban-Happenings” in which there was a ritual of returning a portion of earth to the Caju Cemetery, in Rio de Janeiro. This work is best known by the phrase “returning Earth to Earth”, but what is less known is the methodology that Hélio Oticica had used and that evokes the idea of find-play, which is an action in a common space (ground) that unfolds within the search of assembled and open-to-dialog elements. Our game began in ZKU’s chessboard image. It referred us to Glauber Rocha’s film, The Patio (1959), whose scenery was also built over a checked surface on which an encounter of bodies happened.
We were interested in that because the idea of playing/performing over a space having brought a “persona inventory” from another land attracted us in the same line of thought of the Caju event. In other words, these references – Glauber Rocha’s film, Hélio Oticica’s “find-play” and the talk between Hélio-Haroldo in the “heliopates”, held in New York’s Chelsea Hotel - baroqued and mixed, would serve us in order to create/build/construct our presence in that space with so many fractures and stories.
The actual encounter with the strong wind, grey sky, cold weather and rare sunshine in the place, along with the production team demands, gave rise to new aspects: we had to search for fabric to set up our performance space and evoke Oiticica’s “Tropicália”. We did not hesitate to do so in the Turkish Markt, a place that relates to Brazilian Popular fairs and Carnival. We searched for what Fausto Fawcett once called “peripheral energy”, the strength that compensates us for the lack of another kind of energy, the “Viking energy”, which moves the European civilizations.
We were not the only Brazilians. On the contrary, we were the majority, but there were Russians, Spaniards , etc. We also experimented with the contradictions of being a peripheral majority united by a lingua franca: English. As a couple, we also formed a unique core of action which compressed and expanded over the checked surface, referring to Glauber while at the same time making use of movements derived from martial arts. Our “find-play” presupposed bringing a sound landscape related to our Brazilian repertory, tropical/tropicalista and at the same time evocative of some key moments of the western music produced in the 1960’s and 70’s. The premise of occupying the vast ZKU’s space was concretized by a walk to that soundtrack which also created an environment: the bossa-nova, the samba-rock, the conversation between Hélio Oiticica and Haroldo de Campos, the Rolling Stones, Cream, Mutantes...
For more than four hours we followed a general script we had proposed ourselves to, and which evoked - as we call it - our Pernona Inventory: Frankestein Psi, Xamã-Halloween, Jesus Christ Parangolé, Cabelofagias, Beuys-Goat, and many other irreverent mixtures of high and low, raw and cooked, as unusual as Alexander Rodchenko throwing streamers during Carnival, a Werewolf wearing a “cocar” (headdress) or, as in Helio Oiticica’s action held in the 1980’s, that took place in a contemporary art event in a suburban cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, a mixture between Umbanda ritual offerings and conceptual intervention. Each time we resumed our walk we passed through the “portal”/penetrável (Oitica’s expression) which worked as a kind of connection/passage between various cultural/space dimensions.
In reality, our goal was to proliferate this Brazilian-baroque logic of mixtures, such as the one that operates in another of our references, Ivan Cardoso’s film, “At midnight with Glauber” (“À meia noite com Glauber”), a collage of various other films of the same filmmaker and archive excerpts that dare to join Hélio Oiticica, Glauber Rocha and Zé do Caixão, with the narrative text of Haroldo de Campos. We wanted to follow “the accomplice trail of elective affinities” mentioned by the poet in his text for the film, which, to us, naturally evoked Goethe – Germany – and the vertigo of quotations that all these works activated and whose vortex we were interested in amplifying. It was a kind of carnival festivity prepared throughout a residency expanding itself in a durational performance, a sort of evocation of the tropicalista “Sunday at the Park” (“Domingo no Parque”) from Gilberto Gil or even the events that occupied, in that same way, the Flamengo Park in Rio de Janeiro during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. We, therefore, tried to translate the information the curatorship gave us, by reechoing it in our own repertory so that we would know what we could offer from the tradition in which we inserted ourselves, – Brazilian’s performance tradition – when placed in an unknown context; the strange land which we only knew through images.
From a “distant site”- our own – to that other one, the crossroad of difficult moments in Berlin, we examined which extensions and conjunctions were possible to be produced.
A curious detail is that the action performed by Hélio, in Caju Cemetery, in Rio de Janeiro, took place in 1980, the same year as Paul Klee’s centenary was being celebrated. Many references to names of the German culture (Goethe, Klee) peopled the path of the artists who were, in turn, our references. There were all sorts of implicit dialogs: industries such as Volkswagen that, in the 1960’s, started to dominate the Brazilian car production and the developmental symbology this fact has in Brazil’s history; the image of company buildings that made port connections on the other side of the Park, the evocation of the international commerce; Haroldo de Campos who was Max Benses’s friend and had visited the Ulm school of design and had just arrived from Austin, Texas, for the talk with Hélio Oiticica at the lobby of New York’s Chelsea hotel, in the early 1970’s and which we heard while performing in the ZKU in 2013 “returning” the Brazilian myths to a ground that would disseminate them and, last but not least, would understand them in its own way or would misunderstand them as an enigmatic sequence of events reopened to unexpected conjunctions of meaning (such as the Russian artist who picked up waste in the park while we passed through evoking Beuys, goats, Frankensteins and carnivals).
PARA CITAR ESTE TEXTO
SOUSA, G. S. de; AGRA, L. J. S. L. . Persona Inventory >>find-play<<. In: Atelier Obra Viva, Berlin, 2015.