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​The sonority of silenced voices

Performance of Carol Barreto
© Taylla de Paula

The thematics that are born out of peoples classified as “minorities” for an edited and Eurocentric history, such as those that speak about African and indigenous matrices, evidence social and racial tenses, with layers of prejudice. 

The performatic works from Monday night at the conference materialize the complexity of people with stories from lives that are pulsing and plural.

Clothing and music as belonging

A black woman, dressed in white, standing still in the middle of the pati of the Goethe-Institut, raised curiosity in the public. The beginning of the performance “Coleção Asê,” of the artist and fashion designer Carol Barreto, creates curiosity and concern. The performer Val Souza (Instituto Sacatar), wears lacework that sends us back to the clothing of Afro-Brazilian religions, as well as braids that cross over her face, composing a kind of mask.

Walking through the hallways of the gallery, she conducts the group to come inside of the theatre. In a dark environment, a square light focuses on a pair of white cloth flip flops, while a projection of editorial photos scroll through, with the background of atabaques and other percussive instruments. Problematizing the place of appearance and of clothes in the historic process of the constitution of black subjectivities, Barrett reads excerpts from “A Defect of Color,” by the writer Ana Maria Gonçalves.

Describing in detail the “clothes that sinhá bought Antonia,” the text speaks about leather necklaces and bracelets, besides a “beautiful back cloth thrown over the right shoulder” of the slave. Meanwhile, Val continues her trajectory in space, until putting on the shows, and, then, passing the protagonist of the scene over to the band. The musicians Laila Rosa and Iuri Passos, next to the women, who compose the Group Rum-Alagbé-Terreiro do Gantois, mix Afro-Brazilian sonorities with the musicality of the violin.

The sounds take over the space, provoking the environment, while black women continue to be projected in editorial-images in the background, saluted at each beat. Barreta recalls that two years ago the “Asé Collection” generated fruits such as racial and social debates, trespassing through the idea of appearance. 

They spill the blood of our people

"When we walk on earth, we are stepping on the body of a woman.” This phrase of the indigenous Guarani Sandra Benites, present in a video that begins the performance “Tupi-Valongo-Cemitério dos Pretos Novos e Velhos Índios” (Tupi-Valongo-Cemitery of the New Blacks And Old Indians”), by Anita Ekman, offers clues in the artistic-cultural approach of the paulista. In leaving a large straw Guarani basket, Anita walks with a roll-stamp on her on face, breasts, legs, arms.

Symbols of the artist and drawings are revealed on a body that is now covered in meanings. “Europeans said that we were naked, but out bodies were dressed in paintings,” declares an off feminine voice. The images of the National Serra da Capivara Park (Piauí), projected in the background, are put in rhythm with chants of the indigenous people Pankararu, sang by Lidia Pankararu, that create an environment of immersion to the audience. This same voice questions, departing from historical facts, the place of the indigenous woman in history and the violent processes of colonization that marked Latin America, and, in this specific case, Brazil.

“Seventy percent of the population brought in the tumbeiros were men. It was us, women  who hid them in our jungles when they needed shelter.” With the participation of Hugo Germano, new concerns were brought up, in a theatrical dynamic: 30 thousand young and poor blacks were assassinated violently and enslaved per year in the last two years. The location, the biggest port of entry of human beings in enslaved conditions in the Country, became a symbol of violence against humanity.

In this context, the memory of councilwoman Marielle Franco was brought to the fore. Brutally assassinated in the Rio de Janeiro capital, the crime remains unsolved. In exhibiting the last testimony of Marielle at the City Council of Rio de Janeiro, when she highlights her place as a woman elected in Brazilian politics, the potency of the performance expanded the limits of the here-now, dialoguing with the past and placing interrogations into the future. “Us, women, have been violated and abused for a long time, in many moments,” she says in an excerpt.

by Luis Fernando Lisboa