Suicide 2018

Suicide 2018

Performance by Rafaela Aviz
Text by Melquisedeque Matos
Translation by Danielle Cascaes

The performance title “Suicide 2018” already foreshadows the sensitive memory addressed by artist Rafaela Rocha de Aviz. The performance, presented at Escola de Teatro e Dança da UFPA (ETDUFPA), took place with the performer standing in the center of the space, inside a room, equipped with a projector displaying photos of the performer’s self-harm injuries. Simultaneously, the artist’s recorded audio filled the room, with her voice narrating the journey of feelings and pains that led to her suicide attempt in 2018.

The creative process of this poetic study begins with a reflection on the performer’s self-image. According to Salles (2011), this is a continuous, intimate dialogue that is constantly reevaluated throughout the work. In this way, the author comments: “A mind in action reveals reflections of all kinds. It’s the artist talking to themselves. These are intimate dialogues: daydreams aspiring to become operative, ideas being stored, works in progress, reflections, desires conversing” (p. 50).

The inquiries, which initially began by focusing on makeup and beautification dependency, shifted during the creative process toward a different path, a direction that pulsed more strongly: mental health. The experience of depression caused Rafaela to recall moments when her reliance on beauty was not as prevalent. On the contrary, she struggled with her thoughts and the violence she inflicted upon herself through self-harm and intense weight loss, even losing up to 11 kg. The depression that the artist experienced during the year 2018 was a turbulent and sensitive time that yearned to speak up.

And why did it yearn to speak up? Because speaking up, within depression, is something very difficult, complex, and almost unattainable. This psychopathology’s primary symptom is a sad mood, accompanied by a range of biopsychosocial changes, one of them being apathy (Dalgalarrondo, 2019). It’s in this disconnection from the world that emptiness takes hold, and silence is an attempt to listen to the internal echoes that reverberate, bringing symptoms like rumination, pessimism, and depressive realism, which contribute to the correlation between depressive syndromes and suicidal ideation (Ibidem, 2019). The performer mentions that she went through this feeling, and the silence contributed to the act. In this way, Rafaela says, “[…] as time went by, I got worse, and I attempted suicide. Alone, without saying anything to anyone at all. I committed the act” (Aviz, 2022). Thus, the performance became the mouth, the open letter, the unspoken words that vibrated within her bones, unable to escape through her throat.

The performance experience challenges the societal passivity on subjects like suicide. At this point, discussing these topics brings identification and support. It can provide people going through similar experiences with a different perspective than what major depressive disorder offers, namely, that it’s possible to build a support network, but above all, they are not alone.


DALGALARRONDO, Paulo. Psicopatologia e semiologia dos transtornos mentais. 3 ed. Artmed editora,2019.

SALLES, Cecília Almeida. Gesto inacabado: processo de criação artística. São Paulo: Intermeios, 2011.


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