Ayrson Heráclito in Senegal

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posted on 03/30/2015
Awarded with an artist residency in the 18th Festival, the artist, whose work addresses the heritage stemming from the arrival of Africans in Brazil, will develop his research for two months in Dakar

On April 4th, Ayrson Heráclito will begin his two-month residency at Raw Material Company, in Dakar, Senegal. Heráclito was one of the artists who received a residency prize at the 18th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil (2013) for the work entitled Funfun (2012). The videoinstallation is a requiem for a mãe-de-santo deceased at the age of 105 in the city of Cachoeira, where Heráclito lives.

Ayrson Heráclito’s work addresses the heritage and the historical, cultural, social and religious influences stemming from the arrival of Africans in Brazil, particularly in the state of Bahia. Based on the focus of his research, the award jury of the 18th Festival and the Videobrasil Residency Programme partners chose to award the artist with the programme offered by Raw Material Company, an art centre that promotes appreciation and growth of artistic and intellectual creativity in Africa. Among the activities scheduled during the artist’s residency period there is an exhibition at Raw Material as well as a performance in Gorée Island, a district of the city of Dakar, known for its museum and memorial dedicated to the African slave trade.

In 2014, Heráclito participated in the show Unerasable Memories—A Historic Look at the Videobrasil Collection, curated by Agustín Pérez Rubio, with the video Barrueco (2004), created in partnership with Danillo Barata. He also participated in one of the show’s Public Program sessions in which he presented the performance Batendo Amalá. In 2015 and 2016, Unerasable Memories will tour different countries, such as Argentina (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires), Spain (Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo), Mexico and Germany.

Ayrson Heráclito’s most recent work took place in March. He was one of the eight Brazilian artists selected by Marina Abramović to participate in her largest Latin-American exhibition, entitled Terra Comunal, also held at Sesc Pompeia. In the show’s opening event, Heráclito presented the performance Transmutação da carne, in which the performers wore clothes made out of dried meat and iron branded by the artist himself, just like the method by which slaves used to be identified up to the 19th century in Brazil. In her contribution to FF>>Dossier 036, which was dedicated to Heráclito, the curator and art critic Alejandra Hernández Muñoz considers Transmutação da carne – and the 2005 namesake video it originated – as being part of a “tetralogy of slavery” comprised of Sangue, sêmen e saliva (2006), Barrueco (2004) and As Mãos do epô (2007), in which Heráclito uses palm oil due to its objective and mythical-symbolical connections with motherland Africa.

The record of the performance Batendo Amalá (2014), the videoinstallations Funfun (2012) and Buruburu (2010), as well as the videos As Mãos do Epô (2007) and Barrueco (2004) are part of the Videobrasil Collection.