Territories of Invention

When Anselmo visited the Butantã Institute he said he was not afraid of scorpions or snakes, but was very frightened by the crickets. Ana asked if her body had stayed in the eyes-closed relaxation. Dersu is a geographer; he embroiders, dances, and writes. Rita invented a mermaid that consults with Freud so she can sing without people avoiding her. Alexandre invented a virtual reality game where he is in a room and on a ship at the same time. Bianca wants to know why every old lady named Marlene is annoying, or if I loved her on April 22, 2012. Jota is a bricklayer and after work he creates scenes in which he is a Russian ballet dancer. Roberto, who does not articulate words in any recognized language, participates in a conversation where everyone talks among themselves in made-up languages. André discovered that he is part of the bears group, but would like to be part of the brides group.

Since 1998, I have worked in theater and performance, performing, and directing, and I recently published a book of fictional short stories. Besides that, I coordinate collectives of scenic creation. What does all of this work have in common? What is political about these experiences?

One could say that I work with people who are different.

Why different, if we are all different? We say that we are all different. But in practice, be it social, psychiatric, economic, educational, some are seen as more different than others, and end up being displaced, restricted to a certain invisibility or to certain spaces because of this difference. These spaces are physical and immaterial – the architecture of a city combines with mental, social, and collective architectures, from views that are often mutually exclusive of one another.

Therefore, I have experimented with creating places, geographical and subjectives, where differences inhabit the same space and the specificities of each are transformed into creation, into language.

When I coordinate heterogeneous collectives and mix together people with the most varied baggage, experiences, lifestyles, ways of organizing and disorganizing into a scenic creation, I believe that this act is political.

It is political in the act of gathering these people into the same creative space, of legitimizing such diverse styles and providing an environment in which these different ways of being can communicate and influence one another in the same work. It is political in the creation of a collective that preserves the singularities of each individual without reducing all of them to some kind of common denominator. And perceiving, and encouraging the potentialities that emerge, expanding them, transforming them into language, and creating an aesthetic that accounts for this heterogeneity, instead of trying to squeeze these people into some aesthetic or pre-existing niche, for example the domains of »actors,« »patients,« »performers,« »therapists,« »outsiders,« et cetera. [1]

Or when a Polish friend and I created a performance that is a bus tour through a city, in which the tour passengers observe the small, the anonymous, the cities of memory and fictions that we create, instead of the official, the grandiose, the monumental. In this city we invent other possible cities. And narratives that occur inside the bus, outside the bus, in São Paulo, Helsinki, Saint Petersburg, and a Xavante tribe. Narratives that blend times, places, geography, and biography. Cities that have to do with event, memory, happening; with the small short-circuits, a collection of irrelevancies. But it’s that the irrelevance hides another type of importance. [2]

Or where we invent a lecture in which we say that statistics make mistakes. We try to explain love, the evolution of the species, how atoms come together to form a body, the behavior of bears. And we realize that a failure in explanation is a kind of learning. [3]

The political dimension of these works is in a sphere of the minor order. Blending knowledge, inexperience, irrelevance, memory, and fiction without having to repay some kind of debt; a one-to-one scale. And realizing that each person establishes a method of discovering how to get his or her creative potential to emerge, based on the way of that person and not from a supposed predetermined system one must conform to. On the contrary. Through the people we find the method. And we discover that this other way is language, and we create an aesthetic with it.

Brazil is in the midst of a major crisis. At this moment, the oligarchies that have represented the worst aspects of the country for the past 500 years have gained strength, taken power, created a ministry that excludes the enormous diversity of Brazilian types, colors, religions, and cultures. And they have excluded the Ministry of Women, of Racial Equality, of Human Rights, among others. Brazil is not represented in the current government. This has become evident and has generated protests, and the general situation is not only unfavorable, but dangerous.

Within this panorama, being able to gather people to create something that goes against the grain of this situation is a political gesture. A micropolitics. Creating a different possible inside of the impossible situation in which we find ourselves.

Inventing space and time to come up with things that don’t exist, or scrambling those that do exist. It is not a disciplined group, nor a church, nor a democracy, nor an anarchy. It is us trying to exist with our points of intersection, contamination, different ways of relating, seeking to preserve the nuances and ambiguities that a gathering of people produces. Recognizing the turmoil and crossings of each one and the other turmoil and crossings that take place when people get together. At the same time, and also because of this, creating conditions that produce life, opening, gathering noises and dissonances. The frictions and asymmetries. The vulnerabilities. The strangeness. A garden that is also made of jungle. If we imagine that the other is not ready, but constantly self constructs and is constructed, we can meet and invent other Others and different ways of being together. And then share this with those who come to watch.

Translator: John Laudenberger


  1. Jump Up Examples of these collectives are Cia. Zaum, Performance Course at the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, Ueinzz Group; groups that I coordinated with Cássio Diniz Santiago, Vocational Program, Ser em Cena, Group of Studies and Creation in Performance/Live Art.
  2. Jump Up Perfect Shipwreck Tour Performance, with Karolina Kucia, Sesc Pinheiros, 2013.
  3. Jump Up Lecture Performance Compendium of Bears, Drawers, Bacteria, and Hearts, with André Mendes and Lindsay Castro Lima, Sesc Ribeirão Preto, 2014.