Displacement as Choreography

Residency brings together eight Brazilian artists in Munich. In a country with a colonial past, physical displacement and symbolic shifts in perspective appear on the residents’ bodies and in their works.

Participants in the PlusAfroT Residency include Grace Passô, Mahal Pitta, Ana Paula Mathias, Lenna Bahule, Malú Avelar, Iagor Peres, Guinho Nascimento and Rebeca Carapiá.

Social control and vulnerability

The idea of displacement – both temporal and spatial – and the way this movement affects our bodies, reflections and artistic research permeates the process and the day-to-day of the residency. According to the curators, “together as a group, within a German context, we experience the effects of coloniality and its sophisticated systems of social control, to which racialized, dissident and vulnerable bodies are subjected predeterminately. And we also experience the effects of de-colonialization as resistance, action and erasure, through our very presence”.

According to Lima and Lopes, the PlusAfroT Residency was not a program where de-colonialization was discussed, but rather this experience, with its paradoxes and conflicts, was felt, beyond a doubt, in their own bodies. “It projects us to an understanding of the way our movement makes us invested not in the discourse, but in its shape and in the trail we are leaving behind with this choreography along the way,” they say.

As for the residency’s influence on his own artistic practice, Iagor Peres, one of the eight artists-in-residence, reports that transatlantic travel – leaving behind a completely tropical climate for the extreme cold – directly affected the materiality of his work. “Not being able to source the same materials I use in Brazil, such as glues and types of cocoa, forced me find other ways to bring form to the material,” says Peres.

Regarding the residency process, Diane Lima and Mario Lopes set out from a desire to undermine the curatorship’s hierarchical and centralizing role with regard to the creation of a program and work schedule. A set of actions were created collectively that were divided between activities with the body and experimentation, reading groups, German lessons and jam sessions for improvisation, as well as the possibility of interventions to undo the structures themselves, provided that they respond to critical issues or the expressive needs of the group.

Subjectivities in conflict

The body, however, did not go unscathed by the effects of displacement and its conflicts. “With this, the group created escapes and bypassed almost 100% of the activities it proposed, opening up a great discussion around the ideas of utopia, autonomy and mental health,” report Lima and Lopes.

For Peres, the residency was a place that confirmed the reality of a non-stereotypical black community: “Everything took place in a space where there were only racialized people and where subjectivities all came into conflict. This experience affirms just how untrue the discourse of massification of the black community, of understanding what this black community is. That part was really nice, to realize that the world really has crumbled,” he says.

Lost Body

The show Lost Body – Displacement as Choreography was organized as a result of the artistic processes developed throughout the residency by the artists, with their escapes, conflicts and estrangements. It is also the result of their reflection on the effects of these conflicts on “foreign bodies,” in foreign contexts, and on how artistic practices can act as devices for mediation, questioning, friction and dialogue.

Inspired by the collected poetry of Aimé Césaire (1913-2008), the collection of works was imbued with the conviction that black existence is only possible in and through language, and this is the daily exercise that was worked on with the artists-in-residence. “In addition, we are interested in thinking about the effects of Black Time on bodies, a notion that resonates fundamentally with Mario Lopes’ research on normative conflicts and on the understanding of the displacements of bodies in space and time, like choreography,” summarizes Diane Lime.

Diane Lima is an independent curator, researcher, and creative director. She has a Master’s in Communication and Semiotics from PUC-SP and is the creator of the research platforms and curatorial experiments NoBrasil (2014), the AfroTranscendence (or Afro-T) initiative (2015), the Diálogos Ausentes series (2016/2017) and the Valongo International Image Festival (2018).

Mario Lopes is a choreographer, cultural coordinator and manager. He is Director General and one of the curators of Plataforma PLUS and of the international collective veiculoSUR, a choreographic immersion program that links the cities of São Paulo, Munich, Montevideo, Santiago, Lyon and Helsinki.

Lorena Vicini is a researcher and cultural manager. She coordinated the “Episodes of the South” project at Goethe-Institut São Paulo (2016-2018) and is currently a researcher at documenta studies, a research platform attached to the creation of the documenta Institute, which aims to offer a critical space for the discussion of curatorial studies.

Translated from Portuguese by Zoë Perry.