“Football” is part of the episode that occurred in April 2005 between players Leandro Desábato, of Quilmes, the Argentinian team, and Grafite, of São Paulo F. C. The Argentinian athlete was charged with racism for calling Grafite an “ape” and a “nigger”, and remained in custody for two days. The case migrated from the Sports to the Police pages and led the group to a new round of investigations on racism. In order to collect material for the performance, they made interventions in Brazilian and Argentinian matches, in collaboration with the Grupo de Arte Callejero, an Argentinian group that brings together photographers, visual artists and designers who carry out urban actions. Percussionists and DJs follow the projections in “Football”.
Centered on the body, the performance, as ephemeral and unpredictable as it is, is not a form of entertainment, but an artistic genre that involves confrontation and risk. Political by necessity, it subverts the relationship between the work and the public, who is not invited to suspend disbelief before a fiction, but to pay witness to an occurrence. Transiting amongst disciplines every bit as much as it evades them, the performance becomes the expression of an art form in which the boundaries between genres cease to make sense. Perhaps that is why it is singled out as the contemporary artistic manifestation par excellence.
It was the observation of this phenomenon, especially in the evident manner in which it reverberates through electronic art – now increasingly more politicized and linked to the presence of the artist –, that motivated the gathering of such an expressive group of performers at this Festival. Brazilian, North American, Asian, African, they represent various takes on a genre of infinite hybridism, intent on dissolving the limits between artistic expressions one moment, and pointing to social issues and sharing universal scars the next.
One of the most striking of these approaches, the performance openly constituted as a political gesture, is rep- resented, among others, by the Cuban-born New Yorker, Coco Fusco. She commands an urban intervention which stages a ritual of subjection common in North American military prisons, though seen here as a kind of compulsory performance in which the body is violently used against man himself. The observation of the way situations reflex themselves in the media and in the society is also the source of the recordings brought together in “Futebol”, a work by Frente 3 de Fevereiro that echoes an act of racism; and the distressing sensa- tion of imminent tragedy the feitoamãos/F.A.Q. group takes as its subject matter.
No less political in their essence, the works of Kenyan artist Ingrid Mwangi and the Indonesian Melati Suryodarmo are the fruit of a performance conception in which the body is the field of projection for disturb- ances born within the sphere of strictly personal experience. Mwangi, who created “My Possession” for the
Festival, uses voice and movement to speak of an existence in displacement. In “Exergie – Butter Dance”, Melati, who studied performance with Marina Abramovic, draws upon the imminence of the accident – and not uncommonly, the accident itself – to produce a concentrated level of intensity without the use of any narrative structure whatsoever.
In different ways, Marco Paulo Rolla and Detanico Lain represent the performance that is born of the fine arts. Rather than abandoning the white cube, the paradigm for the contemporary exposition space, Marco Paulo appropriates its formal rigor in performances that speak of the disconcerting bursting through of chance into a world of placidity and balance. Artists Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain environmentalise their pixel landscapes and enter the scene themselves to manipulate them live so as to accentuate their character of digital representation – and, ultimately, understand how the representation constructs images of the world.
Plastic, music and video are the founding elements of a performance genre that is particularly vigorous in Brazil. The previously unseen works of the Chelpa Ferro group and the artist Eder Santos to be shown at the Festival are some good examples. In Chelpa Ferro, Barrão, Luiz Zerbini and Sergio Mekler broaden their spectrum of action by producing music and noisy objects, which they position on the stage as parts of an installation. “Engrenagem”, which reunites Eder Santos with musicians Stephen Vitiello and Paulo Santos and with performer Ana Gastelois, is a re-reading that validates the artist’s talent in the use of video to multiply the visual effects of performing acts of dance, music, drama and poetry.Both Eder Santos and Chelpa Ferro have passed through the Festival before, as the presence of their work in the Antologia Videobrasil de Performances attests. Eder created an historic series of performatic works for the Videobrasil Festival, while Zerbini, Barrão and Mekler featured under the name Chelpa Ferro for the first time at the 12th Festival, in 1998. It is therefore symbolic that their new work has been chosen to close the 15th Videobrasil. Within the ample panorama of this most contemporary of genres, they represent a line in performance that was the pioneer on the Brazilian scene and which the Festival is proud to have nurtured since its inception.
ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL. "15º Festival Internacional de Arte Eletrônica Videobrasil - 'Performance.'": de 6 a 25 de setembro de 2005, p.98-99, São Paulo-SP, 2005.
The football pitch is the arena of pretence racial and social equality, and, simultaneously, the stage where deeply ingrained prejudices are revealed. The pitch inspires the performance by Frente 3 de Fevereiro, a group that researches racism in the quest for inroads in its political and artistic actions. The name of the group is an allusion to the death of Flávio Ferreira Sant’Ana, a black youngster who was murdered by six policemen in São Paulo on that day last year, because they took him for a thief. The 2004 founding manifesto states that the aim of the group is to “bring to the surface what Justice and the media try to forget: racism placed before citizenship.” One of the group members, Daniel Lima, created a laser beam suggesting the union between the city of Salvador and Africa at the Pan African Contemporary Art Show, in Salvador, March 2005. Lima has also tackled racism in previous works, such as in the photographic series “Blitz” (2002), in which he smiles standing next to policemen.
“Football” is part of the episode that occurred in April 2005 between players Leandro Desábato, of Quilmes, the Argentinian team, and Grafite, of São Paulo F. C. The Argentinian athlete was charged with racism for call- ing Grafite an “ape” and a “nigger”, and remained in custody for two days. The case migrated from the Sports to the Police pages and led the group to a new round of investigations on racism. In order to collect material for the performance, they made interventions in Brazilian and Argentinian matches, in collaboration with the Grupo de Arte Callejero, an Argentinian group that brings together photographers, visual artists and designers who carry out urban actions. Percussionists and DJs follow the projections in “Football”.
Followed by millions and broadcast nationally, football matches are a potent exposure situation for racism, says Daniel Lima. In “Football”, Frente 3 de Fevereiro also aims to deal with inherited racism, reproducedand self-replicated. “What interests me is to think how this past is manifested in daily life and how we can, by means of trigger-elements, make their mechanisms evident”, states Lima, who is also one of the founders of the group A Revolução Não Será Televisionada, which associates video art and activism. “I work with interventions because São Paulo’s public space has always grabbed my attention, with racism, because it touches me and my identity, with the media, because it interests me to think how to re-signify the gigantic load of information we receive everyday, and that, in the end, ‘disinforms’ us”, completes the artist.
Conception: Frente 3 de Fevereiro. Participants: Achiles Luciano, André Montenegro, Cibele Lucena, Daniel Lima, Eugênio Lima, Felipe Teixeira, Fernando Coster, Fernando Sato, Julio Dojcsar, Maia Gongora, Maurinete Lima, Maysa Lepique, Nô Cavalcanti, Pedro Guimarães, Sônia Montenegro, Roberta Estrela D’Alva and João Nascimento.
ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL, "15º Festival Internacional de Arte Eletrônica Videobrasil": de 06 a 25 de setembro de 2005, p. 134 a 135, São Paulo, SP, 2005.