Fausto Fawcett, Santa Clara Poltergeist (1992), performance
Timeline: 30 years of performance at Videobrasil
Apart from featuring the then-new video medium, the 1st Festival, held in 1983, featured installations, new technologies and performances. Personifying the Cavaleiro do Apocalipse (Horseman of Apocalypse), Otávio Donasci arrived at Museu da Imagem e do Som (Museum of Image and Sound of São Paulo), which hosted the Festival in São Paulo, riding a white horse, a video monitor for a face, wielding a fluorescent sword. The horseman announced the end of time and urged spectators: “Scream, scream out loud, scream out at least one word that’s free, scream along with me if you want to!”
At the inauguration of the 4th Festival, in 1986, José Roberto Aguilar unveiled the MIS, which he had wrapped in black plastic, in a reference to the artworks of the artist couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude, in Anti-Christo. The unwrapping served as a metaphor, the artist said in a video available on VB Channel, for the unveiling of the gaze, for marveling in seeing things as if for the first time.
The 9th Festival was marked by a comeback of performance, featuring Otávio Donasci’s Videomáscaras and Fausto Fawcett’s Santa Clara Poltergeist. Santa Clara Poltergeist told the story of Verinha Blumenau, a prostitute from Santa Catarina who transformed into Santa Clara Poltergeist after a sexual-mystical experience and travelled to Rio de Janeiro with her powers to heal through sex. The set was designed by Luís Zerbini and Jorge Barrão and the video recording was made by Sérgio Meckler – in 1995, the trio joined forces to create the Chelpa Ferro group.
Eder Santos participated in the Festival with a performance for the first time in 1994, during the 10th edition. Poscatidevenum was a collaboration of the Minas Gerais-based artist with the instrumental music group UAKTI, combining music, speech, video and film footage, literary text and dancing. In that same edition, Santos collaborated to the No Sleep and a (Dead) Bird performance, by sound artist Stephen Vitiello, with whom he formed a lasting partnership that spawned the Engrenagem performance, shown in 2005 at the 15th Festival, and the feature film Deserto Azul, directed by Santos with a soundtrack by Vitiello, co-produced by Associação and Sesc São Paulo. In its 11th edition, in 1996, the Festival reiterated its vocation of encouraging performances, featuring five of them, including Passagem de Mariana, by Eder Santos, Paulo dos Santos and the UAKTI group, and Video Opera for Paik, by Steina Vasulka and Stephen Vitiello.
The program of the 12th Festival, in 1998, featured eight performances. The poet Waly Salomão presented his performance Bestiário Masculino-Feminino as part of Carlos Nader’s CineSegredo installation, creating an “orgiastic” happening commissioned by Associação Cultural Videobrasil. In that same edition, Chelpa Ferro performed at the Festival for the first time with O Gabinete de Chico, combining live music and image projections. The music was played on musical instruments and unconventional objects like an orange squeezer, party balloons, doorbells and a knife sharpener. O Gabinete do Chico was re-enacted in 2013, during the 18th Festival, under the title Reboot, and the group was the subject of Carlos Nader’s Chelpa Ferro documentary. The film is part of the Videobrasil Authors Collection, a series produced in partnership by Associação and Sesc São Paulo to provide visibility to the thoughts and work processes of contemporary artists, from the perspective of guest directors.
Featuring performances that challenged the notions of this art language, the 13th Festival continued to encourage artists who conduct research with hybrids resulting from the combination and the interaction between image in motion, music, dancing, the body itself and the art venue. The highlight among the five featured performances was Coverman, by Alexandre da Cunha. The body is the centerpiece of this performance, which alludes to medical procedures in a bid to prompt reflection about our physical fragility. Coverman was restaged at the 18th Festival, in 2013, this time featuring a larger number of performers.
The 14th Festival, in 2003, featured nine performances based on the event’s various programs: the Southern Panoramas competitive show, the Historical Axis, which revisited the history of video production, and Possible Narratives – Artistic Practices in Lebanon, a parallel show curated by Christine Tohme and the artist Akram Zaatari). Walid Raad participated in Possible Narratives with his performance-lecture The Loudest Muttering Is Over: Documents From The Atlas Group Archive, a recorded version of which is featured in the Unerasable Memories – A Historic Look at the Videobrasil Collection exhibit. In that same Festival edition, the Historical Axis featured performances by Tadeu Jungle and Marcelo Tas – the former paid tribute to Waly Salomão and the latter, to his own character “Ernesto Varela, the reporter.”
Performance was the primary focus of the 15th Festival, held in September 2005. Nine live performances provided a comprehensive overview of the “most contemporary of all genres,” as defined by the curators. The featured performers were Brazil’s Chelpa Ferro, ffeitoamãos/F.A.Q., Frente 3 de Fevereiro, Marco Paulo Rolla, Eder Santos and the Detanico Lain duo, Indonesia’s Melati Suryodarmo, Kenya’s Ingrid Mwangi and the US’ Coco Fusco. Spectators were able to visit several retrospective exhibits by the likes of Coco Fusco and of Ingrid Mwangi (whose My Possession and Bare Life Study #1 performances, respectively, were shortlisted for the Unerasable Memories – A Historic Look at the Videobrasil Collection show). That same year, performance was the axis of the first Caderno Sesc_Videobrasil, edited by José Augusto Ribeiro, and Videobrasil Performance Anthology was released on DVD, featuring 18 artworks commissioned by or featured in the Festival between 1992 and 2003.
In the 17th Festival, the event’s scope was broadened to embrace all existing art mediums and languages. Art Idol, by Israel’s Aya Eliav and Ofir Feldman, parodied the reality show American Idol, promising to reveal the next rising star in performance art. In Ponto de Fuga, the young artist Felipe Bittencourt explored the boundaries of his own body and the spatial and institutional boundaries that contained it. Leandro Cardoso’s performance-lecture Arquivo Banana featured a collection of representations of the titular fruit throughout the history of art. Corpo Ruído #4, by Paula Garcia, required the building of a space with magnetized walls onto which the artist would place car body parts and other assorted scrap iron – a performance/residual installation hybrid, Corpo Ruído #4 confronted perceptions of weight and lightness.
The Festival’s latest edition, held in 2013, featured reenactments by Chelpa Ferro (Reboot) and Alexandre da Cunha (Coverman), plus performances from the experimental performance group Cão (Sem título, 2013) and Luiz de Abreu (O Samba do Crioulo Doido, 2013), the first performance ever to win the grand prize at the Festival.
The Videobrasil Collection currently comprises 1,300 artworks, including 65 recorded performances collected by Associação over the course of 30-plus years. View performances from Associação’s Collection on VB Channel.