INFLeXions No. 4 - Transversal Fields of Experience (Dec. 2010)
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In Das Partes for Video (Zurita, dir. 2007) the young Brazilian artist Veridiana Zurita offers us a threefold movement. The first scene is a proper introduction in which we are offered a human body – a female human body, as we call it. We can also call it a monad (after Leibniz), or a whole, a World. The body is not topped or surfaced with a face but with a mask that stands still and allows the camera to start its observation. It is the surface to be inscribed. It is an invitation. The camera scans its “reflecting, immobile unity” in order to find the “intensive expressive movements” (Deleuze, 1983 : 87) as they constitute affect together. It searches for what is yet unseen, for the dark and the obscure. At this stage it pays little attention to the mouth, which is sealed off by a mask. It is much more interested in the womb. Or at least, that is where the camera is taking us. Two hands start peeling off a series of meat-colored corsets, willingly accepting the camera’s pornographic (as Haraway would call it (1988)) urge to search for an inside, for how the outside surfaces fold in, creating the screen upon which our world can be projected. The camera, as always, is a sadist, with the eternal desire to separate a whole into parts. It is a mechanistic instrument, that, although able to move in all directions, is itself only interested in zooming in, as Eisenstein has told us so often. For is it not strange that zooming out only takes place at the end (sometimes of a scene, mostly of a film)? Zooming out is the restoration of the romantic ideal. It has nothing to do with art, with aesthetics. Quite the opposite, it upholds the idea of representation, of the doubled world which we are now about to leave. This camera is honest, true. It knows that its only way is to the inside, into the world.
When the last corset is removed, the camera has arrived at its final frontier: the living skin. Once covered up, given a façade by the lifeless corsets intended to provide the body with an identity (sexual, cultural, social), with a structured and captured self that finds itself in opposition to the outside that it escaped, the skin always already re-moves the images projected into it. It shows itself as a most unstable surface, nervously in movement because of breathing, because of the muscular structures that connect it to the various living bodies its houses, and most of all because we all know that the skin is much more than an organ of the body. The skin is the fold to the nth degree. The skin desires the out to come in and the in to go out. The skin, upon closer inspection, is a Sierpinski carpet that seems to be a surface, or, in terms of the body it surrounds, a volume. But it is covered with holes that are surrounded by other holes ad infinitum, making its total surface/volume approach zero. By undoing the body of its harnesses (corsets) and by zooming in upon the ongoing metamorphoses of the skin, the camera, as ever, searches “to withdraw into the recesses of a world” (Leibniz, quoted in Deleuze  1993: 9). We approach the skin infinitely closely. Darkness encloses us. The (phallic) camera folds itself into the belly, the navel, the centre of the world.
The inside of the belly, the womb, equals a square made of wood. This is what the second scene tells us. And there is a woman inside it – unmistakably a woman, of course. But this time the mask does not capture her, signifying the way her body is held captive, enclosing and molding it into a defined set of expressive traits. There is a mask involved, but its function is entirely different from how it (together with the corsets) acted in the first scene. Now the mask is made up of a cluster of heads, with all sorts of facial expressions. It also leaves the mouth uncovered. Sometimes the dancer extends her head with an artificial leg. Even more so than in the first scene, we are reminded of the monstrous births that still haunt the female body. Or, in more contemporary terms, the teratomas, as Stacey mentions them: “cancers of the germ cell (the egg or the sperm), [that] mimic ‘the beginning of life’ with apparently authentic authority” (Stacey, 1997: 91). Or the deviant fetus that threatens the body of the mother, yet is unmistakably produced by it, a part of it. Braidotti adds to this that “the constitution of teratology as a science offers a paradigmatic example of the ways in which scientific rationality dealt with differences of a bodily kind” (Braidotti in Stacey, 93). This deformity, this abnormality which is of the female body, turns grotesque in the stage version of Das Partes (which is a name the artist chooses to give to a series of processes and not to this particular project). Here, the extension of the head has not only itself grown spectacularly (reaching to the ceiling of the theatre, easily ten meters), it also seems to have over-coded her entire body with a cluster of limbs and faces. The extension then almost suffocates the dancer with its weight and its dangerous rotations, turning movements into spasms that only show us the impossibility to get away from how the enormous space allows our body to extend itself, in the end crushing it under its weight. It is the End of Man.
Let us take a closer look at the way in which Zurita performs the monstrous female homunculus; how her dance proposes a vitalist critique of scientific/Cartesian dogmas. Let us follow for a moment the movements expressed by the dance, and then in particular the way in which they allow us to escape from the strategies of power, the discourses Zurita plays with. To start we should keep in mind that, in line with Foucault’s late writings, the earthly wooden square is the heavenly elastic circle that does not limit the dancer in the way she moves but rather opens up a (spatial/spatiotemporal) way of being (creating a topological rather than a geometrical space). Refusing the anthropocentric perspective, we should thus not start our analysis by stating that the dancer moves or dances inside the cube. Rather, it is with the cube that the dance takes place, as everything acts in its togetherness. The infinitely hollow surface/volume with which the camera confronts us does not function according to the idea that two outsides of bodies can be related to one another. Rather, it functions through enfolding. It shows us that movement never takes place on the outside of a body, but comes from within, from how the body, that is always multiple, and has the greatest depths, unfolds itself with the camera. The sadistic camera that is capable of opening up a threshold of perception, once more allows for a multitude of com-pli-cations, du-pli-cations and re-pli-cations that create the morphogenesis of the real.
The body in the box becomes a cell, a molecule that does not “contain” but that is always already as a whole created in the dance. This (per)formance once again shows us that dance is not about the body and how it expresses itself. Nor is dance about the sense (meaning) released by a body, as Colebrook seems to ascribe this idea to Deleuze (2005: 12). Ascribing dance to a body still presumes the existence of an Aristotelian body with particular bodily traits and possibilities (not virtualities) that are considered qualities of this body before the dance takes place. We claim however that it is through dance that bodies are created. We say that dance is about the play of forces as it creates the sensations through which bodies of the performer, of the cube, of the spectator, and of all of them together (there is no reason to believe that particular pleats of matter cannot be part of several bodies at the same time) are being formed. That is what dance is about – the creation of the singular body/bodies in correspondence with the singular space/spaces (and time/times, as we will find out later).
This must be the reason why Zurita chose to name a series of performative experiments Das Partes. Das Partes (from Portuguese to English) should be transcribed “from or about the parts”. It refers to the various performances, to the parts of which they consist, but of course most of all to how in the dance the partiality of the objects, the unformed matters about to be mater-ialized, about to be in-volved, is always already at stake. It first of all seems to propose a type of performance in which an inside, folded from an outside, is created as an immanent intraconnected set of series. Thus we should not have talked about an extra leg, as if added to an already existing head, or a series of limbs and body parts as if they were “extra” to the body of the dancer. Starting with force or movement, with a Bergsonian Élan vital, we should rather have set to mapping how new conglomerates, new bodies of bodies, come into being in the event. This is why Manning starts her book Relationscapes by stressing that: “There are always two bodies” (2008:13) when it comes to a dance. At least two bodies, never one, and it is always relational movement that is involved. Thus, we should set ourselves to opening up to the intensities as they come about between the bodies, creating a zone of life that is relayed with the various tactics and their consequent enfoldings through which the performance enters processes of movement.
Taking all this into account, what can we say about whatever does happen in this second movement? How can we conceptualize the particular (or singular) dance in this scene? How is dance at work in this particular performance? How is the Aristotelian definition of dance, still the most dominant conceptualization of dance as Colebrook (2005) rightfully claims, that searches for the origin of the dance the body of the dancer (the developed potential to dance inherent to a body), put into question in this particular performance?
Important to the creation of the strings of movements here is the fact that this event has a stutter. It is not a stutter in language. It is not the creation of an extra tongue that fights the imposed major language, as Sneja Gunew speaks of it (2004). It is not a political linguistic but rather a materialist aesthetic stutter. It allows both the imagery and the music to open up an oblique four-dimensionality in which hesitation, fear, desire, chance and power are produced through a returning pleat creating non-chronological streams. The pleats slow these streams down and speed them up, yet unlike the razor-sharp stroboscobic bits that make up the video art of Antonin de Bemels (see de Bemels, 2009) which seem to accelerate movement increasingly, Zurita allows for a taking back and forth of movement, creating continuous gushes on either side surrounded by its extremes (we can refer to them as helicoidal movements).
In search of the dynamic combinations in this ongoing disequilibrium, the stuttering surfaces and temporalities, volumes and soundscapes, do not create a (harmonic) parallelism but more or less evoke one another in the stutter, which then sets into movement a non-synchronal rhythm that pushes the performance forward. The predominantly cinematic and audiovisual rhythmic contents, are doubled by this rhythm that, in its stapling, forms the helices, the multiple dances, that only due to our simplest narratology, can be considered as one, the one total linear movement. The various stutters thus seem to be caused by the way the imagery and the music are constantly decomposing the composition enacting a multiplicity of microdances that overlap one another creating a texture, a corrugatedness. This way a “synesthesia proper to vision” creates a visual touch, as Massumi (2002: 158) names it, followed and preceded by a “synesthesia proper to hearing” that creates audible touch. It makes good sense to use Deleuze (and Guattari)’s concept “the haptic” (Deleuze,  2003) to catch what these textures express, how the stutter itself is a sensation. The stutters thus work like the individual (static) overlapping scales of the fish that speed up the movements taking place between the fish and the water, separating the substance of the fish from the substance of the water.
Enfolded within these rhythms are the spatio-temporalities of relation. To unravel these, we should not look at the performance in terms of it primarily being created by the anomalies of speeding up and slowing down. Now we focus on the images and the sounds as a system of relationships between its elements-to-come, creating forms of succession and of extension. These forces make up the two vortices central to the analysis of dance. That being said, the first thing to agree upon in respect of our second analysis is that these particular dances by no means reflect a series of studied movements, of steps, of positions memorized and stored inside a body. Instead the body of the dancer opens up to those particular machinic procedures that the dance, the event, proposes. It is invited to act beyond the pure empirical succession of time (the chronological choreography), much more interested in an introspection of coexistence and how that comes about. Thus when the hand follows the walls of the cube, it is not according to a preset bodily ideal that the dance proceeds: a new relation emerges where the entire body of the dancer and the cube are deterritorialized and undergo a metamorphosis. Manning adds to this: “As the bodies qualitatively metamorphose, so does the relation between the form and matter of these bodies” (2004: 89). What happens in the dance is therefore a deterritorialization of everything that makes up the body of the performer, of the cube, and of everything else somehow at work in the event, in all their virtual relations.
Instead of departing from the dogmas of dance, Zurita therefore enacts dance worthy of the event. It reveals to us the two concepts that Whitehead came up with that allow us to map what happens in the event, situation and ingression. The first calls attention to the way matter is involved (being formed) in the event, how the forces in it allow for connections to take place. The second then focuses on how this connection allows the meanings (in the widest sense of the word) to flow into one another. Any matter (or the “object” as Whitehead calls it, or the various “parts” as Zurita refers to) then “has different modes of ingression into different events” ( 2007: 119). The dance explores whatever forms and metamorphoses of these matters involved can take place, how they can affect/deterritorialize and create one another, drip into one another.
Only by allowing dance to be worthy of the event do the bodies involved set themselves to an infinite creation of a space-time manifold. Do not criticize this by claiming that a body when captured in a cube is not able to stand up, to stretch in full, to walk or to run. We should not think of the body outside of its situation as a premise of all bodily action, as Merleau-Ponty taught us a long time ago (for instance, 1945: chapter 1). Neither should we ascribe all kinds of qualities to “a cube”, as if it is a ready-made, static entity simply placed into a performance (and taken out again). Let us not fall back into this Kantian/Cartesian idea of space and time as already existing categories that locate and capture life in four dimensions. Let us accept that “[we] are caught up in the world and we do not succeed in extracting ourselves from it in order to achieve consciousness of the world” (Merleau-Ponty, 1945: 5). And if we cannot extract ourselves, we should certainly not extract a cube, an Other, from the world, as Derrida so often told us. Let us accept that the living subjects and the lived objects come to life in this situation, in this performance. The microdance that we are conceptualizing here then in the end proposes a thorough anti-dogmatism that always already starts with, as the Argentinian pop group the Babasonicas, in their song “Microdancing”, keep repeating: “No esperes nada de mí, no esperes nada de mí (Do not expect anything from me, do not expect anything from me)” (2008). For, instead of expecting, of projecting our ideals onto the real, we should map the speeds-and-slownesses that give form to the contents and expressions that are the event.
Our view in the belly is kaleidoscopic as one microdance always already invites the next, creating an infinite enfolding of movements in the smallest possible circuit. It is a kaleidoscopic machine as it constantly staggers from one moment to the next or to the previous. We notice that there is a crack in the world, as Murakami’s Nakata put it so eloquently in Kafka on the Shore. The minor movements, the smallest gestures that the camera reveals to us, present us with the fractal nature of space that, in magnifying even the infinitesimal, creates new forms of expression, new blocks of sensation ad infinitum. The continuous questioning of all the relations at stake poses all sorts of questions. Because of the ever changing intrarelations, the dancer can turn from a dwarf into a giant in the shortest period of time, or into an animal, or into a ghost. This is not because the body itself of the dancer is capable of creating a metamorphosis, but because of the relations at work in the dance.
Because of the ongoing metamorphosis that makes up this performance, which in no way finds its origin in the human being, the big questions (in micro format) that haunt this second scene especially, deal with how this move away from humanism is being established. Actually at the start of this scene, where the dummy-like figure of the first scene allows us to enter its world though the belly, the navel, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, that canonical image that can be found at the heart of humanism, as it dominated thinking in the Western world for such a long time, immediately joins the experience. Inspired by the architectural writings of Vitruvius and in particular his idea that the ideal human figure was the principal order of proportion in all classical thoughts on form, Leonardo suggests capturing this geometrical ideal in the two positions that make up the Vitruvian man. In reference to his artwork, his (few) writings even further explicate the profound anthropocentrism we see at work here. The very first sentences of his Paragone, his (edited) philosophy of art, focus on the idea that science, geometry for instance, begins with the surface of the bodies that has its origin in the line, the border of that surface. Clearly making reference to Vitruvius’ De architectura (written circa 27 BCE) (Vitruvius 1931: 3.1.2–3), Leonardo’s (perfect) triangle between art, science and truth represents the anthropocentric harmony of forms that starts from the human contours and that has enjoyed such great popularity in modern times. Leonardo’s image is part of the same Modernist discourse as Vitruvius’ ideas and the way they set themselves to “establish the true rules of the beautiful and the perfected in buildings”, as the famous physiologist, architect (of a part of the Louvre) and translator of Vitruvius (commissioned by Colbert), Claude Perrault, argued (in Brodsky Lacour, 1996: 135). Framed by heaven (the circle) and earth (the square), the Vitruvian man can very well be seen as the fulcrum of all Modernist form. From the ideal anthropocentric point – the navel – all spatiality has to be thought.
Yet whereas Leonardo considers the navel to be the point from which the world unfolds itself, Zurita considers it the point at which enfolding takes place. It is not an extensive zone that is created from it and opposed to it, but an intensive zone in itself. Thus, in contrast to what Leonardo does, this performance does not define man, nor heaven, nor earth. It is not ideal, not even modern. It makes no distinction between the circle and the square or between heaven and the earth. The belly/the womb, as she stages it, is both the circle and the square, relative to its use. It is both heaven and the earth as the forms do not follow from the human body, projecting its form onto the world, but are created by the flows of the event, by its intra-active movements. Instead of enveloping the anthropocentric space of Vitruvius, as Leonardo does, Zuritas’ non-humanist spaces thus seem to the way in which a contemporary architect like Koolhaas conceptualizes his notion of BIGNESS. Koolhaas too intends to allow for an uncomfortable dimensionality that is not ideal or modern. He aspires to mobilize architecture’s full intelligence by allowing buildings to grow beyond the (human) imaginable. Not subscribing to what he calls “the humanist expectation of ‘honesty’” (1994: 501) as it supposes a transparency and a rational logic, Koolhaas’ BIGNESS deliberately seeks an accumulation of the mystery. In a similar way, Zurita creates what we might call a smallness. An infinite uncomfortable smallness, mystifying the body of the dancer by confronting it with situations it has never been confronted with before. Once again, the performance proves itself to be sadistic. This time it is not because of the perverted camera that set itself to the unravelling of the human body. Here, it shows that the body was de-organizing itself all along, always already questioning its (modernist) identity, breaking it into pieces even more.
All of a sudden the dancer is confronted with a dummy of a female body, and immediately throws herself at it. Instead of critiquing sexual difference, anthropocentrism and subjectivity, in which the codes and signs and powers are being questioned, Zurita now moves to an affirmation of sexual differing, to a philosophy of the pure event, to desire or appetite, in which affects, forces and an absolute instead of a relative metamorphosis create the performance. This time there is no search for an inside of the body, a biological essence, a gender or a humanity. The third scene offers us the body of the dancer in more or less the same position from which the performance started (again stressing the (fractal) self-similarity of the whole project). Yet now, the entire performance is reterritorialized upon the mouth. Replacing the Vitruvian navel as the centre from which the world unfolds, the mouth offers us a new way of thinking about humanity without opposing the inside to the outside, thus there is no need to “undo” our humanist legacy (as, for instance, Butler proposes this). Without having as the ideal to unfold the world according to the contours of the human body, or having to critique it, the mouth opens up the inside and the outside, the subject and the object, allowing us to start from between. The mouth then rewrites humanity from the point of relationality.
The last and no doubt most enigmatic scene thus offers us the mouth. Here, the fragmented body, consisting of two-dimensional plaques of skin and doll parts, is pressed in to create a new whole, a new body, which is immediately torn down again. The pieces are being chewed upon as well, or better, danced with by the soft circle/square of the mouth, through what is not even a microdance anymore, but a nanodance… This is what Brazilian performance artist Lygia Clark’s call to structure the self is all about. It is a call for a non-humanist nativity. It is a creation of life, which has to take place in the dark. In the obscure, in the hidden. That is why the experimental Jews’ harp group, Trio Aubergine, considers its music subterranean; because it is in the mouth, in the unknown, that they allow their instruments to create a mechanical expression of the cavities of the head into the great outside which is not outside anymore. The vital one, the most undefined and flexible cavity being of course, the mouth.
Lygia Clark herself once had a dream in which an anonymous substance was churning out of her mouth, leading to the loss of her inner substance. It is the End of Man. She turned this into what would probably be one of her most well-known performances, Baba Antropofágica. In it, the participants who used to be mere observers (in this case, students of hers at the Sorbonne where she taught for a while), placed small spools of colored thread in their mouths, unwinding them directly onto another of the participants who lay on the floor. We can translate Baba Antropofágica as “Cannibalistic Drool” – the collective vomiting of lived experience which was then swallowed by others, as she herself must have described it (Osthoff, 1997: 283). Creating bodies from bodies, by eating them, by dissolving them through the mouth.
Life should be situated in the mouth in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, life is not a very mystical concept. In his Modes of Thought (1968: 151-2), Whitehead named life’s three characteristics, which reminds us a lot of how Spinoza had already defined it a few centuries earlier. First Whitehead identifies a need for self-enjoyment, which Spinoza would define as a perseverance of being which he also considers the essence of every (multiple) body. Then, he comes up with the notion of creation which allows the constant construction and destruction of unities, which Spinoza captures with the twin terms joy (=creation) and sadness (=destruction). Finally, Whitehead introduces “aim”, which is about selecting and projecting “the boundless data” in this process of unification, which Spinoza defines with affect and affection.
Even more so than with Lygia Clark, the third part of Das Partes for Video is about the creation of life. With Zurita too, the dancing of the body parts in the mouth is also accompanied by drool. This time, however, the drool is not represented by colored threads. This time there is no obvious reference to a Freudian Dream. This time, the drool has to emerge from the dancing, from the movements themselves: they do not take place in the mouth, but they do in a sense create the mouth. This third scene then rewrites the second scene not so much by turning it inside out, which would imply that the organic (the body of the dancer) and the inorganic (the box, the dummy, the plastic body parts) have switched places. On the contrary, the third scene bears the same genetic algorithm as the second. Its morphogenesis is one of topological (scholastic) self-similarity in which the drool proves able to reveal life as a necessity of the micro- or nanodance. Clark has said that her performances were by no means pleasurable. Here, with Zurita, the pain that comes with the loss of inner substance, expressed by the drool, is accompanied by the pleasure of creating an inner substance, creating the impossible. For now we see the subterranean, Heidegger’s earth, as the various micro- or nanodances assemble the body from the various parts that dance the mouth. Even more so than with the second scene, this scene (per)forms life as it shows us its origin, the locus where it is both destroyed and created – the mouth… that drools.
There is definitely something Brazilian about this. Let us not refer to it as postcolonial, not only because of its prefix which supposes a kind of linearity to come (as Lyotard put it ( 1991)), but also because it comes with a kind of non-situatedness, a strange kind of abstraction that takes us away from the lived. Clark’s work, together with that of Helio Oiticica, definitely experimented with the real and did so in such a way that the soil, the abovementioned subterranean, needs to have a crucial position when we conceptualize their work. And when we see a notion of “Brazil” popping up in their performances, this does not necessarily mean that they define a country (although much more pop and less radical, the Argentinian group Babasonicos might be interested in similar processes as they too are interested in drool, a sonic drool in this case). Brazil is then a much more general flow that is realizing and actualizing itself in all sorts of situated statements and material arrangements.
Although also definitely interested in the body, Clark’s anthropophagic vomiting, especially as it captures an-Other human body is a political manifesto, whereas Zurita’s drooling microdance is a purely aesthetic experiment. It is relative movement as opposed to absolute movement. It is a body politics instead of a desire to find out what the mouth can do. Clark, like Gunew, is in search of a second tongue, a subterranean otherness that resists the force feeding of the mother, as it is enveloped (in later life) with language (see Gunew, 2005). Clark thus has to vomit, has to get the intruder (the food, the language) out of her body in order to cleanse herself. In her correspondence with Hélio Oiticica, she thus explains the need for spectators: “Each day I lose more of my apparent personality, entering into the collective in search of a dialogue and accomplishing myself through the spectator” (Clark and Oiticica, 2006: 115).
In the preceding letter, Oiticica explained how this movement is in a way conceptualizing Brazil by referring (“especially”) to Oswaldo de Andrade’s 1928 Manifesto Antropofágica and the way here too a move away from rationalist Europe (=humanism) is being performed. The title of Clark’s performance makes a more than obvious reference to this timely manifesto, but in many more ways, this pamphlet can help us to understand what goes on in the performances of Clark and also of Zurita. Even more, turning out to be the opening statement of Brazilian modernism, de Andrade’s manifesto opened up an important critique on European aesthetic dominance and turned out to be of the greatest influence not only in South American art but also in the political routes taken since.
Central to de Andrade’s manifesto is that (writing in the year 374 of the Eating of Bishop Sardinha, as he dated it) he creates Brazil as the cannibal. It is a true manifesto of the mouth that proposes to eat the rationalist madman (Galli Mathias) the same way Latin(o) culture (coming from European heritage) eats the “traditional” cultures (Amerindian, African) and law in general. De Andrade knows his Freud (especially Totem and Taboo of course), Marx and Breton, and reterritorializes them into the mouth, not so much criticizing them but devouring them. Also he parasitizes Picabia’s Manifeste cannibale dada, turning ultimate nihilism into a vitalist program that urges Brazil not so much to be anti-European, but to turn away from culture and civilization (as defined by Europe) as a whole. That is why he celebrates primitivism, notably the Tupi Indians, traditionally known (in European literature) for their cannibalism. His emphasis then on devouring whatever one is affected by in the end encourages art (Brazilian art, that is) to traverse Native, European, African and Asian cultures as they are always already in Brazil. De Andrade thus promotes a naivety that absorbs or traverses, not creating a style or a movement but a spirit, a Brazilian spirit that calls for a creativity that is not, as with European modernism, so strongly connected to a chronology, to a celebration of “the new” as opposed to the old.
The drool in Clark is by all means a cannibalistic drool that encloses the Other, the totem as Freud conceptualized it. In Totem and Taboo, Freud states ( 2001: 3), “What is a totem? It is as a rule an animal (whether edible and harmless or dangerous and feared) and more rarely a plant or a natural phenomenon (such as rain or water), which stands in a peculiar relation to the whole clan”. The Other is then obviously the European, the father that needs to be controlled, silenced, of which the mouth needs to be shut. The drool, churning out of the mouths, spins a thread around Europe, performing an animist ritual in which indeed a self is lost through a devouring of the Other. Yet in emphasizing the other, in placing the other (the European) at the centre of attention, Clark’s reading of de Andrade is political and critical.
Das Partes for Video allows us to read de Andrade very differently. There is definitely a Brazil active in her performance, and it is cannibalistic too. However, by choosing the dance instead of the mute corpse, movement instead of being, an affirmative creation of the body instead of a capturing, Zurita’s rewriting of Brazil actually turns out to be very different from Clark’s. Zurita does not need the Other, the projection, in order to decompose the self, because she knows that eating is not about the capturing of the other but about a necessary and ongoing metamorphosis of the self. Although de Andrade’s manifesto also calls for an eating or a devouring of Europe, it is not so much through the creation of an Other that he proposes to move away from the self. On the contrary, his move away from humanist Europe is not done by creating an opposition (the self versus the other) but by being the parasite, by the simple act of traversing. That is why de Andrade can say: “We have never had grammar… We were never baptized” (27 March, 1920). Therefore, Zurita does not allow the totem to be seen in another particular relation to the self, but always already part of the event, of the dance, a plural part of the multiplicity of “parts” that comes to being in the event. It is animal or plant in that it is always an escape from humanity. It is desire. It is affect. It is the drool.
The drool is thus not the medium through which cannibalism transports itself, that connects the devouring self to the devouring other, sucking life out of both of them. The drool reveals cannibalism. It reveals the mouth as the locus of creation where matter is being formed, or chewed upon. Where life shows itself as “nothing more than the process of always-productive becoming” (Colebrook, 2008: 64). In this performance, and especially in this third part, where we are shown how life eats life in the first place, a true alternative to humanism is offered to us. It is a truly Brazilian aesthetic, a Brazilian vitalism in continuous composition in the mouth.
The author wishes to thank Erin Manning, the editors of this issue, Veridiana Zurita and Iris van der Tuin for their wise and constructive comments on an earlier version of this text.
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|INFLeXions No. 4 (Dec. 2010)
Transversal Fields of Experience