Photo: Magda Kaspar

Performances in exchange, retrospective 2

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Performance Diary

Politics of bodies

 

31.5. Farpa,

- Ronda Grupo

This performance was about the political body of a woman, which I now situate in Brazil in this case.  The performance consisted of movement motif of knitting, representing this action, first on a fabric, later, on the woman herself. She was performing various type of movement series from western modern dance canon with repetition, attacking, hitting manner of executing her movements, sitting quietly knitting, of inserting some violence in her bodily being. The piece was taking a stance in a situation that has long history in the country - the number of homicides is well-known, obscene and increasing after Jair Bolsonaro got in power. The amount of weaponry is rising.  Arts try to fight against a habit of ruling with violence. I encounter different ways to resist. One is this performance model that follows European tradition, though is brazilianized I might say, and happens in the sphere here departing from its situation, what are the ways of modern dance taught here and how it is transferred on stage. Aesthetically, how it is layed out verbally, theoretically. Another way is for example favela funk, which I cannot see, but can sometimes remotely hear, that talks about society, from the perspective of people living in slums of the country. Sometimes I see a bunch of people gathering behind or next to a car doing funky kick ass moves and doing a choreography together with a ghetto booster shouting out loud from the back of the car. I m too shy to go and ask may I join? I am not sure is it my place. I don’t want to disrespect with my touristic curiosity window. But those are some amazing moves and performers there and I feel the sound vibrate and respond inside me. It stays to vibrate in my eardrum. There are countless of artists, who also just go and do. In public space, small showings, you name it. Funding doesn´t seem to exist or when it does, barely. After all, what would Bolsonaro and his friends do with art? 

While floating in this thought, I am reminded of my seminar series Fabulations on a Landscape. In these moments on street, the landscape fabulates within me. I need to fumble how to answer to this fabulation. To act, to react, to what, where, who? Sometimes in here I feel landscape fabulates so much I´m in a turbulence and don´t know which wave to grab. Or maybe I just ride along. 

 

Mamifera Reptiliana,

 by Daniela Carmona 24.4.

Daniela Carmona is an actress, doula and yoga teacher from São Paulo. She concentrates in her master studies in a certain moment in a labour process of women, of giving birth to a child, that the woman cannot remember after. I would imagine this moment is one of pain, of body taking over, of hormonal peak to enable the child to be born. She has interviewed bunches of women about their birth labours, and according to her, each one describes a similar moment; they cannot really remember what happened, but their bodies took over, they transferred to some other space, state, in a similarly chaos and concentration of feelings, physical sensations, pain, a sort of a trans state – normally these women were without some strong outer substance / epidural or similar.

Carmona engages in a research of goddesses. These goddesses are symbolizing different nature elements and are present in Umbanda, afro-Brazilian religion she is also part of, and to which I was lucky to get introduced to. I realized we have many contact points together in traditional Finnish nature religions, with different personifications etc, but Ahti, Näkki and others, not so different from Iemanjà, Iansã, Nana and so on.

 In Mamifera Reptiliana, she made research on a lion goddess of Egypt, that is related to the god of sun, Ra. The performance has a ritualistic dramaturgy, having drumming music with trance like vocal scape on as one enters the performance space. There are incenses on, there´s an altar, the audience seats are on both sides in an arena kind of manner, there is an altar with fruits, balloon of water, fire, etc on the other end, and Daniela standing as soldier with a lioness mask and some other lion imagery filling imagination in her costume.

Once the audience is seated silence arrives and a performer moves slowly with lionlike movements towards the altar. At the altar she mumbles and speaks and performs some, I am assuming, ritual to prepare. After she takes the balloon of water, dresses herself with that and a red fabric she also uses in birth labours with pregnant women, and starts slowly moving and entering a trance like state that with time gets more intense and peaks with drumming and other music increasing in volume, in the end. After which there is silence and performance draws to close.

Carmona has made four variations, four short pieces on birth labour, this being her third. From the performance, I had a feeling, that the stories she has been collecting, in Florianópolis, in small rural villages in central and northern Brazil were present. There are big debates and challenges with pregnancy and birth labour in Brazil, as in other countries as well. The country is divided with extremely fast done, sterile Caesarean sections with women quickly back home -principle, and with long birth labour processes in rural areas of many days, where the oldest woman in the village takes care of each birth in the village, teaches young girls that take part in these birth labours since young age, where ways to relieve pain are rather different than in the hospital environment. Certainly, there are differences between hospitals.

The performance has a strong atmosphere, and few months later I can still hear the drumroll. A collaborator of this process mentions, that it is typical of Brazilian performances to have a ritual dramaturgy. I ask why is that? He wonders about it himself as well, and then ponders out loud. Perhaps it comes from the African tradition to have dance integrated in yearly festivities, for certain purposes and events. To celebrate life, death, other important moments in life, for rain, for war, as well as to honour each goddess and god. They are also often social situations, where the audience somehow surrounds the performer, perhaps participating with also moving or cheering or similar. In a book of Brazilian body in performances “Corpo a corpo – estudo das performances brasileiras” there are similar descriptions on chapter sing, dance, fight. I will continue my study on these performances.

Something that I have been pondering during the week of dance while attending the performances at Federal University and performances at the University of Santa Catarina, relate to colonial history and present, and which traditions are followed and executed.

Sometimes, I feel the performances follow European tradition strongly, If I look at the use of stage, composition, aesthetical choices. Other times the way to do performance is completely from a non-European tradition but what I find Brazilian from my viewing point, or from something that follows African traditions. Mode of doing has different urge from the centre of the maker, they are often not located in the theatre / black box / stage with seats. They happen in the street, parties, in a ceremony, ritual, it is naturally part of the environment around, integrated in yearly cultural cycle of time. They have many viewers but not a set audience behaving in a way still audience is expected to behave. With Daniela Carmona´s piece though, I found both traditions were present, as well as her own strong performativity, history, and studies of interest.

I feel like I´m doing scratches. Brazil is such an immensely huge country and complex with its culture, I´m experiencing grain of crushed black pepper of it all. In my home country, the history is again different. There´s also such a complexity in why the performances are made into what they in the end are, that it feels always too narrowing and superficial to write a little something. Then again, perhaps that grain is good to start with, perhaps with this journey I will get tad bit further in many years to come.

 

-Karoliina Loimaala