I smell, delight myself, and listen: I feel the memory when the light hits the pores in my skin
Art-Life Rituals for Radical Tenderness (6/11)

I smell, delight myself, and listen: I feel the memory when the light hits the pores in my skin

When I am not is when I exist, I expand, I see.

The performative-ritual-recital takes me into a trance, and it is in it that I can feel the genuine action of my body.

Still frame from “eu poderia cantar uma canção agora, né?” (Brazil, 2020)
PDF deste artigo disponível em português aqui

I have chosen to name my work “performative-ritual-recital,” a creative process that is composed by what passes through me and structures me, in which the trance state sources me to face memory. The intertwining of my body, the word, the language, and the mapping of these memories materialize in performance, voice, graphic design, and a language of my own. I propose the encounter of these multiple languages as an immersion in my history, intersecting with the memory of other bodies that have crossed paths with me, notably those of black women.

These memories have manifested themselves in different ways, and the expansions and ramifications are being drawn in a continuous process. From the inscription on the body, writing, drawing, language, perception and production of sounds, or in videos, I observe how to access these points of my existence that provoke different manifestations in me and in how they are inscribed: in the skin, in the bones, in the scalp, in the roughness of the tongue, in the hair, in the enamel of the teeth, in the nails, in the pores, in the viscera, in the nerves, in the back of the eyes, in this body that is the support for my artistic work. My research process is based on the non-rationalization of memory and on how it performs within the trance.

The sound of the city crosses me and echoes in this body, causing my cells to erupt and finally become a wave: a wave in the earth. The graphics I create stitch this territory in a movement of existence marked by disadvantaged social reality, gender, sexuality and race. These memories-atelier come to exist in my performances, where air, gravity, echoes, clouds, the earth, and water take on weight, density, smell and taste, take shelter, and dance in my body. As a spectator and a provocateur of myself, I observe a radicality that opens up the possibility of “making room for new forms of co-existence to encounter me,” “seeking sense-fullness rather than meaningfulness.”

In this ritual-action, I take notice of all the skins and places I inhabit, the bones and lands that bear my weight… I look for a comfortable place to shelter the remembrance of what will come from the encounter with the memories that dilute themselves. Undoing the perception of temporality, I invite myself to “allow my state of wonder to stay open, without always trapping it into meaning, to follow non-normative and non-linear time.

Performative-ritual-recital

Still frame from “eu poderia cantar uma canção agora, né?” (Brazil, 2020)

PIXELS AND PORES

The racist and homophobic social structure in which we live forges an idea that sustains the imaginary of what we should be, which for us, black people who are also gender dissidents, becomes the institutionalization of our deaths. We sign treaties and agreements, we negotiate our existences daily, but even so, this is not enough to guarantee our survival. Therefore, in order for me to actually exist, it is necessary for me to dematerialize myself, to get rid of who I am. This unfolds into the existence of a need to create a daily way of seeing myself, the need to experiment to taste the joy of being able to simply feel the wind hit my face, feel my soul.

From this, for our encounter—here and now—I make a choice. I choose to look at my body and offer it to be seen through the holes that form it, between and through the lights.

The process of this investigation takes place in an attempt to undo myself, to dematerialize myself from what I am, so that I can actually exist.

Pores form us and pixels are the images we see of ourselves, micro-holes, micro-fragments of light, cracks and traces of an existence. With a camera I film my gestures, the performances of the hairs and holes, of the skin that composes this, which I call body-space, body-time. With another camera I refilm what has already been recorded in images: a technique I call “screen filming.” I invent and reinvent my gestures, my gaze—I cut and crop, I zoom in and out—I choose what and who I am, I see the possibility of redesigning my narratives, and also the possibility that other narratives are redesigned beyond what I see or I understand, but feel. I propose this work based on what my existence feels like. It is not from the sphere of understanding, but from the way I choose to communicate my self—body, skin, pixels, voice, pores, desires, beating heart, entrails, sound. I invite you to feel me, to feel what I want to show you from my existence.

when I am not is when I exist, I expand, I see.

Still frames from “ensaio sobre sob” (Brazil, 2021)

Today I woke up with a message from my grandmother; she filmed the birds that were on TV.

I could sing a song now, right?
a song that I created with the intention of saying some things
confusion and chaos are the boundaries of the edge of the table and the tip of the shelf
pacts
agreements
contracts
treaties
commitments
pixels
they put us in the guardhouse to watch us pass
 
you need to cut the rope
life offers you a deal
either you enter a tug of war or
you tie it around your own neck
it is necessary to cut the rope cut the rope
rope cut
colour
date
wake up
cut the one-way street
the linearity
get out of morpheus' arms
and taste the flavour of the streets that cut corners
the threshold
the pluripresence
the reticence
the future
the after
that is not tomorrow
it’s before
 
I am a body and that’s all.
 
earth
liquid thing
quagmire
mangrove
I can undo and remake the places and manifest the indecency of my presence, a key piece for remaking of chaos
 
I make myself in the traits and vertebrae that bend to form the paths
any corner,
any trace of longing,
in density
 
in sanity
in the possibility
in the impossibility
and in the audacity of giving myself the pleasure
 
I am a body and that's all.
Still frame from “eu poderia cantar uma canção agora, né?” (Brazil, 2020)

TONGUE / LANGUAGE

Within this same process of memory and the attempt of dematerialization, I also seek to think and forge other possibilities. One of the forms that are also presented in this work is language, the tongue in the mouth and the language of communication. (In Portuguese, “língua” means both tongue and language.)

I’ve been letting my body create its own way of communicating, through the sound that comes out of the mouth, but that first creates a friction between the air and the vocal cords.

This language that still has no name transits between the untranslatable and the space full of sensorial provocation. The words come out of my mouth, my lips move in a way I don’t know and have no desire to know.

What do you feel when you feel me?


Invitation-Proposal for Immersion

The exercises offered here are part of my repertoire of daily attempts to feel the body and memory: cellular memory, vocal memory. To be able to see and hear it—and even more—to be able to recreate it. Access the possibility of existing without rationalizing, moralizing, or seeking to understand. Look at the pores and see how these fragments of pixels glow on the screen. Be able to recreate through fragments, without linear narratives. Make it possible for air and sound to come out of this hole we call the mouth in another way.

Now I invite you to an immersion in two stages: PIXELS AND PORES and TONGUE / LANGUAGE. You can try both,* in no order of action, or just one of them. Before starting, choose a place where you feel comfortable and gather the following materials close to you:

  • Something that plays music (e.g. phone, computer, speaker)
  • Something that records your voice (e.g. phone recorder, computer recorder)
  • Two things that record images (e.g. phone camera, computer camera, camcorder)
  • A sheet of paper
  • A pen or pencil

Beginning of the immersion process for experiment 1 and 2:

  1. Choose a comfortable space, preferably with pleasant light and enough space to move your body).
  2. Choose whether you want to listen to a guided immersion or read the steps. If you are reading, choose an album to listen to or a series of at least three songs. Here are some suggestions.

Click here for a 14 minute guided immersion of steps 3 to 11, or continue reading the steps below.

  1. Start your process by lying on the floor on your back, open your legs and arms like someone drawing an X on the floor and feel your body, feel that you are present, feel the encounter with gravity. You can close your eyes if you feel it’s better. Feel the weight of your feet, your calves, your hamstrings, your spine, your head, your hands.
  2. Continue this investigation and start noticing your breath (this is important in all body work). Feel your ribs expand on the in-breath and contract on the out-breath.
  3. Feel everything that crosses you in this environment: smells, sounds, lights, presences.
  4. Start moving your body slowly, waking it up. Start with your fingers and slowly feel the energy of the movement taking over your body.
  5. Don’t forget to pay attention to your breath.
  6. After awakening, lie on your side like a fetus and begin to rise, slowly unwinding your spine. The last part to stand vertically is the head. Don’t forget to pay attention to your breath.
  7. Start moving your body by trying slow movements first and then alternating with faster ones. Always pay attention to your breath. This will help you stay focused and connected to your body.
  8. Don’t worry about how the movements are coming out; here we are not experimenting with the aesthetic, but with allowing the body to explore the fluidity of movement. Allow yourself to be in this movement exploration for at least 2-3 minutes.
  9. Slow down your movements until you reach stillness. Reconnect with your breath. When you are ready return to the instructions and continue to the next stages of the experiment(s).

If you choose experiment 1 (PIXELS AND PORES):

  1. Position a camera towards you and start recording. Keep experimenting, moving closer to and away from the camera. Spend time staring at yourself. Do free experiments. When you realize you are doing a choreography, undo it, disobey.
  2. Don’t forget to pay attention to your breath.
  3. When you feel it’s time to stop, stop. But very slowly… feel the temperature of your body, feel how your breath is, how you smell.
  4. Turn off the camera.
  5. Watch what you’ve produced.
  6. In this next step you will reshoot what you filmed. You can do this by transferring the images you recorded on your cell phone to your computer, and then using your cell phone to film the computer screen again; or leave the original images on the cell phone and use another device to film this screen. When reshooting the images, start by zooming in on the parts that interest you most, recording only a part of the screen at any given time. Also combine this with other available resources that give you other proposals for images and other ways of seeing yourself (it can be simple things like increasing and decreasing the brightness of your cell phone or computer screen).
  7. From what you experimented, observe what this exercise moved in you. When you move and disobey the choreography, letting your intuition take over, what is it like to look at your body moving? What is it like to be able to look at yourself and recreate what was created, observing the formation of your body from the particles of light that are opened wide when the camera looks at the screen? What is, or who are you in the materiality of the virtual?

If you choose experiment 2 (TONGUE / LANGUAGE):

  1. Take a piece of paper and start combining lowercase and uppercase letters of the alphabet in unusual ways that you have never tried before (e.g. “vebijo”).
  2. Create between five and ten words and start saying those words; watch the articulation your mouth makes to say them.
  3. Start experimenting with saying the words through intonations that refer to different emotions (such as contentment, happiness, anger, sadness, nostalgia, fury, etc…). Notice the meanings that arise in this process. Do whatever it takes so they don’t crystallize, help them continue shape-shifting instead of getting fixated in one form.
  4. Use the high and low, mid tones. Scream, whisper.
  5. Now I invite you to do a memory exercise: how did your mouth move to give passage to the new phoneme? What was it like to propose to your body another possibility of rearticulating the encounters of letters? What did it feel like to say something that you created but didn’t know the meaning of?
  6. Choose one of the words you created and integrate it into your life by sharing it with someone so that it becomes a code for something you want to say, but for which existing words cannot be used…
  7. If you wish to, create an audio recording of these words.

* Additional instruction for anyone doing both experiments:

If you choose to experiment with the two exercises, there is the possibility of carrying out a meeting between the two results, making a montage of the audio with the captured video, elaborating other possibilities of narratives. This was the procedure I used to create the video below.

Filed Under: Multimedia & Performance

By

Jamile Cazumbá is a visual artist and researcher that grew up in the Palestine neighbourhood of Salvador, Brazil. A graduate of Museology (UFRB), she is the artist and coordinator of the project Disobedient Practices, the coordinator and producer of the research group and Cineclub extension Mario Gusmão, and a member of the Angela Davis Collective. She transits in the midst of many fields of art, like performing arts, curation, production, and cinema.

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Art-Life Rituals for Radical Tenderness (5/11)

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