In its 11th edition, SP-Arte presented in April the second edition of its sector exclusively dedicated to performances – a partnership with Centro Universitário Belas Artes. Of the ten works selected to be presented during the Fair, two received awards: How a Tortoise Killed a Jaguar and Made a Harmonica out of Its Bones, by Renan Marcondes, and Permanence for an Incarnated, by Luanna Jimenes.
Marcondes’ performance presents the image of a male body subjugated by an object: an orange stiletto, the heel of which is a 30-centimeter rod. Unable to stand and hold an erect position, masculine and dominating, this body transits slowly through the horizontal plane through a choreography that condenses images referent to the objectification of women.
The artist won a two-month artistic residency at Instituto Sacatar, located on Ilha de Itaparica, Bahia state. In the following interview, the performer talks about the SP-Arte presentation and his expectations about the upcoming residency and future works. See below!
SP-Arte: Tell us a bit about the idea and concept of your performance.
Renan Marcondes: The performance is a reflection on existing places between subject and object – or “dominator” and “dominated” – and how these places are always transitory. A large part of the research focused on artist Andy Warhol and radical feminist Valerie Solanas, who tried to kill him with three shots to the chest. For me, this situation, as well as the two figures, are examples of this confrontation: an homosexual and shy artist who becomes an absolute figure of power and influence through total (or cynical) acceptance of a capitalist system and a radical and idealistic woman who intends to make a direct interference in this system (through the death of a figure who synthesizes it) and was placed in a psychiatric hospital for three years accused of being insane. From this confrontation came the desire to synthesize in my body a few contradictions of these figures, creating a body that does not direct any empowering discourse, but asks about places of power. It may be linked to the queer movement, given the use of a stiletto over a man’s body, but the heel is so big and pointy that the subject can’t do anything other than roll on the floor; it may be linked to feminism, but it’s contradictorily a man reproducing some gestures and images characteristic of female representations in the history of art; it may be linked to the fetish we attribute to objects, since the shoe many times is more noticed that the body action itself…
SP-Arte: Issues associated to feminism and women empowerment are quite in vogue today. What is the importance of addressing these themes? Do you intend to give continuity to them in future works?
RM: I believe that the artistic treatment given to all minority emancipation movements is essential, especially when they set out to not be re-affirmative, but rather embed questions internal to the movement itself and its contradictions. I say this because it seems to me that in art we can observe them without the need to apply them directly – that is, disassociated from their political and social function. But it’s important to point out that it’s not a matter that I directly focus on in my production, but rather the result of specific study. I would say that this work presented at SP-Arte began to dialogue with these issues through the demands of materials I found (Valerie Solanas, Müller’s Ophelia, female positions in paintings…). In other words, when I noticed that these issues had arisen, I had to pay attention and be careful to the fact that they were being incorporated by a man, be aware of the fact that they were inserted in a bigger problem and see that in them was my question.
SP-Arte: What was the public’s reaction to your presentation at SP-Arte?
RM: It was intense in flow and difficult in relationship. To be in a context governed by the appreciation and acquisition of objects always requires an acceptance on my part that my body begins to occupy in most of the public’s imagination the same place as a painting, a champagne, a book. The difference is that the acquisition possibility changes and the type of apprehension too. Therefore, most people quickly walked by photographing the stiletto and, in some cases, putting their hand on me and the shoe, or asking what could be bought “from that” (more direct ways to correspond to the desire to apprehend or retain something). Since I already predicted that this more immediate relationship would occur, I specifically proposed for the SP-Arte presentation that anyone who stopped a while to observe the performance would receive a book that accompanies the work. When receiving it from the hands of Clarissa Sacchelli (collaborating artist of the work), a secret phrase would be whispered into the person’s ear. This second layer of the work, which interfered in the visual choreographic manner, generally allowed for the person to stay even more time in relationship with me. I believe that the reaction varied between perceiving the work as a show or an enigma. I also believe there’s an immense abyss between these two types of perception.
SP-Arte: Lastly, what do you intend to do during your artistic residency at Instituto Sacatar?
RM: I have started a new project that for now is called The drop. I am deeply moved by the sensation of drop I’ve been feeling as a Brazilian (drop in imagination, buildings, institutions, trees, political-democratic projects…) and the potential relations with that of a body falling and the action that gravity exerts over it. Based on this, I’m in the lengthy process of retranslating Glauber Rocha’s film Entranced Earth – which I hope to finish there –, and begin composing the corporal score that will structure the performance. But most importantly, I wish to see how the region where Sacatar is located perceives, comments and incorporates what I call “drop”. I believe there will be a huge difference in relationship to São Paulo and this will certainly affect the choreographic composition.