Performance by Luana Sousa Pereira
Text by Melquisedeque Matos and Luana Sousa Pereira
The performance “Carne Corrompida” in certain way was born a few years before being presented at the UFPA, 2019. When we were given the task of creation, I searched within myself for something I wanted to tell, something I knew that marked me, and with that, I returned to 2009, when I was just a kid in elementary school.
I had never gotten along with my body, I always thought that something was missing, that parts of it bothered me, or that there was something else that shouldn’t be there, which was the case. Even for someone in her 12, 13 years old, my breasts turned out to be bigger than most girls’. If I wore a very tight outfit, it showed on the blouse. If I ran to play ball, it hurt like hell. If I lay on my stomach, at some point it would be uncomfortable. I didn’t feel happy, much less free.
I always looked for ways to minimize this feeling, so that it wouldn’t be obvious among the jokes made by my colleagues that I hated the condition. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about breast reduction surgery, but I remember how much I wanted it. I managed to do it in 2015, after a long period, and after a long emotional and physical trail that situation provided.
When I wrote about this performance, I made an effort to return to the sensations of before and after, because they are very different times in my life. I wanted to talk not only about the change, but about what I was going to carry with me for the rest of my life besides the scars on my body. This moment of changes and transformations was a key of reflections which guided my process.
A mind in action shows reflections of all kinds. It’s the artist talking to himself. They are internal dialogues: daydreams wishing to become operative; ideas being stored; works under development; reflections; desires dialoguing. […] We are, therefore, facing another communicative instance of the construction process. It is the artist’s dialogue with himself, acting, at that moment, as the first receiver of the work. (SALLES, 2011, p. 50)
On the day of the performance presentation, when I was standing there, in the middle of a room full of people, I wanted to show that I had achieved the freedom I was looking for. I had never taken my shirt off in front of anyone before, never exposed myself so much to strangers.
That day, I used a PowerPoint slide as a visual resource in addition to my own body. I looked for photos of other scars, caused by accidents, surgeries for medical and aesthetic reasons. I decided to put them together with the intention of showing that the body is a fragile container, which passes through different situations, passes through different rituals. A surgery is, in a way, a transformation, seen by everyone from the outside, but with a much greater weight on the inside. I seek to observe the performance which bathes in my memories, because “Rituals are memories in action, codified in actions” (SCHECHNER, 2002, p. 49).
The title “Carne Corrompida” was chosen because the moment a scalpel enters its body, it cuts through whatever is in front of it. Skin, flesh, it doesn’t distinguish anything. This performance, far beyond showing an issue seen by all as aesthetics, was made with the purpose of showing that at the end of the day, the only one who needs to love your body is yourself, and you must do what you think is right with it. I would be lying if I said that today I love myself completely, but it is always a process, which makes this performance always a process of personal construction every day.
On the day of the presentation, I prepared a video with photos of different bodies of women that were surgically changed, and I decided to put the song “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera in the background, to accompany the montage. I asked my classmates to help me write the word “imperfection” on my chest, and then I didn’t quite know what to do with the pen I used, so I tucked it behind the pants I was wearing. To better see the scars from my surgery, I thought I should keep my arms open. When the performance started I was in the center of the room with the video playing and in the position I had chosen. The intention was just to stand still until the video ended, but they found the pen in the back of my pocket, and they started writing words contrary to the word “imperfection”, so it ended up becoming part of the performance.
Coincidence is an encounter with chance and in this situation, one more interference within creation, like a crossing that causes reverberations, new connection networks. Chance was absorbed by the process, and used as an impetus for new lines (SALLES, 2011).
RANGEL, Sônia Lucia. Trajeto Criativo. Bahia: Solisluna Editora, 2015.
SALLES, Cecília A. Gesto Inacabado: processo de criação artística. 5 ed. São Paulo: Intermeios, 2011.
SCHECHNER, Richard. Performance Studies: An Introduction. Routledge, 2002. Págs. 45-78