Text and Performance by Carla Santos
Translation by Danielle Cascaes
The performance fulfilled in November 2022 was made in a form of protest against the “normalization” of sexual abuse against women within their romantic relationships, with the main provocative element of this work being a relationship in which I was the victim. It took place in one of the practice rooms at Escola de Teatro e Dança da UFPA (School of Theatre and Dance of UFPA) – ETDUFPA, and I was wearing only a small black shorts and adhesive tapes covering my breasts and mouth. To create a more melancholic atmosphere in the room, a student played a keyboard in the background. There was no spoken dialogue; instead, people entered in small groups to facilitate interaction and prevent overcrowding, which improving the experience. They interacted by marking my body, which was placed in the center of the room, with paint and lipstick provided on a bench, allowing them to create drawings, words, or interact with my body in their preferred way. After the interaction, participants discovered five envelopes next to the motionless body, containing written accounts collected from women who had experienced sexual violence within their romantic relationships, often without immediate recognition. The performance lasted for over 1 hour.
This performance was directly influenced by the methods used by the artist/performer Marina Abramovic, particularly her work “Rhythm 0,” incorporating some elements and concepts as inspiration. The focus of my performance was to sensitize those present about the issue of reporting sexual violence that women experience within relationships and also to provoke a critique of how easy it is to feel permission to touch someone else’s body, similar to how some partners feel entitled to violate their spouses. Participants who engaged with the performance quickly felt comfortable interacting through touches or painting with the provided paints and lipsticks on the body placed in the room. There was a sign indicating what they should do: interact. However, it was not imposed, and only one participant out of all refused to interact with my motionless body.
Throughout the performance, I tried to remain as motionless and apathetic as possible, but at times, emotions surfaced, and tears welled up in my eyes. Nevertheless, I did nothing that I did not feel comfortable doing. I was simply moved by the issue I had addressed and the emotions that were stirred in people, particularly women, when they opened and read the letters placed beside my body. In conclusion, almost everyone interacted, as encouraged, with my body placed in the center of the room, except for one young man who appeared uncomfortable and simply observed. Despite achieving some satisfactory impacts, I believe that the critique of how easy it is to feel free to touch someone else’s body may not have been fully understood. Participants may have interpreted the performance as solely a critique of the abuses experienced by women in our society.