Performance by Wagner Abapuru
Text by Melquisedeque Matos
Translation by Danielle Cascaes
The performance “Corpo Ajuremado” originates from Professor Dr. Karine Jansen’s performance course at the theater education degree at the Escola de Teatro e Dança da Universidade Federal do Pará (School of Theatre and Dance/ UFPA). However, primarily, the creative process arises from a latent impulse within the artist’s life reflections concerning their sense of belonging and identity.
The poetic act begins as a ritual of reclaiming what has been lost. In this way, the performer, inside room number 4, unfolds a sheet with some blades on top, syringes, scissors, and additionally positions three bowls, which will serve as containers for the jenipapo dye, urucum dye, and, finally, the performer’s own blood. Furthermore, within the room, they use a basin with an herbal bath, harvested with affections, and incense for aromatization. All these devices aim to produce sensory activations and access to memories, engaging the audience in the act being performed at that moment.
Wagner positioned himself in the midst of his ritual, feeling the gaze of the people who entered the room to witness the act. From there, he grasps the blades on the sheet, sliding them across his body, shaving every hair on every limb, legs, anus, genitals, beard, eyebrows, all under the scrutiny of the audience. The removal of body hair brings a disfigurement of self-image, a strangeness, a restlessness.
The next step of the performance is the extraction of blood. The artist mentions that the blood withdrawal was done with the assistance of healthcare professionals, who ensured safe procedures and proper sterilization. However, the fact remains that the blood placed there is a key point of discussion about this memory, corporeality, and remembrance. The blood represents the power of living and, above all, resisting. After its extraction, the blood was placed inside the third bowl, where it became a substance fused with urucum and blood. A symbolic creation! The performer paints himself with this ancestral blood, with characteristics that reclaim one’s true essence, engaging in a playful act of painting oneself with charcoal, jenipapo, and red blood. It’s a reclamation.
Upon completion, the artist stands up and allows himself to be observed by everyone, now painted with his subjectivity, recalling those who came before, his roots, his people. In this way, as an act of transformation witnessed by the audience, and he expresses gratitude by offering a white flower, concluding his ritual in that moment.
At this point, the exploration of the performer’s ancestry delves into questions about Amazonian black identity and connections with indigenous cosmology. This connection, inherited from the black women in his family and the indigenous heritage bestowed by his grandfather from the Caiapó indigenous community, intertwines his identity.
Thus, the urgency to discuss the reclamation of Afro-Indigenous subjectivities, along with the need to occupy spaces of power denied by the hegemony, leads to the creation of the creative process that seeks to bridge the transition between the city and the forest.
In the artist’s conception, “Corpo Ajuremado” is a body in transition between the human physical realm and transcending to the ethereal plane. This journey provides a discovery of knowledge about the world, the creation of medicines, and insights into the relationships between humans and nature. It can be observed that this concept is composed of layers of the artist’s personal symbolism, including their affiliation with the Umbanda community, representing a return to Afro-Indigenous worldviews and a rejection of Christian colonialism. In other words, it signifies a reconnection and identification with the spirituality of the Amazonian rainforest.
The proposed act engages in a dialogue with the self but also with the collective. It challenges various deeply ingrained narratives within many Amazonian individuals. Furthermore, it invites us to self-inquiry, to remember what they try to erase, burn, or silence within us, the Amazonian peoples. It represents the memory of our connection with the forest and the imagery of our culture.
 TN: In brazilian portuguese, “Corpo” means body, but “Ajuremado” does not have a literal translation, or an equivalent at all. Ajuremado comes from the verb Ajuremar, and in the context the performer is immersed, it means shedding one’s physical limitations and expanding the awareness of one’s own spirit. It is not confined to the possibilities of the body as matter but expands into nature to the point of becoming one with it.
SCHECHNER, Richard. Performance Studies: An Introduction. Routledge, 2002. Págs. 45-78