The Chant of the Chora - on Márcio-André's Performances

By Urbán, Bálint | Liminalities, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Chant of the Chora - on Márcio-André's Performances


Urbán, Bálint, Liminalities


Without any doubt, Márcio-André, the Brazilian performance artist and sound poetry genius, is one of the most interesting phenomena of the aforementioned artistic areas in the contemporary scene. The young Brazilian artist is grosso modo contemporary, which means, if we take into account Giorgio Agamben's elucidating observations, a person "who firmly holds his gaze on his own time so as to perceive not its light, but rather its darkness. All eras, for those who experience contemporariness, are obscure. The contemporary is precisely the person who knows how to see this obscurity, who is able to write by dipping his pen in the obscurity of the present" (44). Márcio-André is perfectly able to see in this obscurity and to extract something from the dark when he dips his pen into it and writes on the walls or on the surface of things in a radically poetic language which is rooted not only in obscurity but also in the technical apparatus that produces it. And it is at this very point that we face one of the central questions posed by the outstanding ouevre of this young artist: the possibilities of language in an era after the collapse of the Gutenberg Galaxy. The work of Márcio-André constantly focuses on the dynamic relation between language, technical media, and space. In this sense, the Brazilian performer's project is a search, a quest for a reinvention, for a re-foundation of the poetic language and of poetry in general, within the boundaries and possibilities of a post-typographic episteme evoked by Provenzo.

In his famous essay "Die Kunst und die Künste," Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno calls attention to the miscegenation and crossbreeding of different forms and genres in art, which leads to the total disappearance of solid boundaries and dividing lines between classical forms and methods (158-9). This special phenomenon described by Adorno as Verfransungsprozess has its origins in the Wagnerian idea of Gesamtkunstwerk and in the transgressive aesthetics of the modernist movement, but it began to be recognized as a regular artistic strategy only in terms of the postmodern cultural canon. Baudrillard, in turn, reactivating Adorno's idea of crossing boundaries, which he calls metastasis, emphasizes that this total transgression and disrespect for limits characterizes not only the art scene but also the fields of economy and sexuality of our present (5). In his essay "Contaminações," Márcio-André calls this process-in my opinion with an obvious Baudrillardian or even Deleuzian inspiration, if we take into account the key idea of the constant schizoid flow of desire with its de- and reterritorializations-contamination (contaminação). In his view, the phenomenon of contamination marks not only artistic production but also the whole existence of our contemporary culture. "Contamination is not based on the principle of a hierarchical exchange between the contaminated and the contaminator. There is in fact a mutual contamination between the participating elements. ... Nothing is stable, everything is in motion and it moves based on substantial, spatial, qualitative, and quantitative contaminations" (9-12).1 This very idea of a postmodernist trans-aesthetics based on the notion of contamination-the generic dissemination of forms, spaces, and qualities-constitutes the core of Márcio-André's performances and other artistic activities.

In the performances of this Brazilian enfant terrible we can trace the influences of the Brazilian concrete poetry movement, the vivid heritage of the sound poetry tradition, and the presence of multidisciplinary inter-media art projects. And if we are speaking of trespassing boundaries, crossing lines, and contaminations, we cannot forget that these ideas are strongly related to Brazilian culture, which is considered to have arisen from the mutual fertilization of three different cultural traditions, namely the pre-colonial indigenous heritage, the colonial canon, and the African superstratum. …

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