At the Barraco da Constance Tem!,
In the Barraco da Constância Tem!, "A", 2023. Photo: Breno de Lacerda

Created in 2005 by Galeria Vermelho, in São Paulo, the Verbo performance show has already formed partnerships with various institutions throughout its trajectory of almost 20 years, such as the Centro Cultural São Paulo and festivals of the genre abroad. In 2018, he began a solid collaboration with the space Chão SLZ, in São Luís, performing, in the same edition, presentations in the capitals of São Paulo and Maranhão.

In its 17th edition, which takes place from July 19th to August 11th, Verbo expands its reach even further, also carrying out actions at the Vale Maranhão Cultural Center (CCVM) and spreading to Fortaleza, where it will be housed in the recently inaugurated Pinacoteca do Ceará. artistic director of Galeria Vermelho, Marcos Gallon points out that the capital of Ceará already has a “tradition linked to practices of the body”, such as the International Dance Biennial of Ceará, and that the approximation with the Pinacoteca took place bilaterally.

“We sought out the Pinacoteca, and they responded positively”, says Gallon, who compares the herculean task of holding Verbo in three cities to “a rock band tour”. “But it's been great with them, because, despite the partnerships we've had in the past, it's quite different collaborating with an institution of this gigantic size”.

Also curator of Verbo, Gallon explains that the more than 30 planned actions, with artists from five countries, will be divided into different programs for each city. Only the selection of videos and films will be displayed in all squares. This year, instead of starting, as usual, in São Paulo, the exhibition will first go to the Northeast and end in São Paulo According to Gallon, Verbo does not repeat the program because “each city has different contexts”.

“In Fortaleza, for example, we have several artists with a practice linked to the public space. This is one of the characteristics of production in the field of performance in the city. And now we are bringing this into an institution”, he explains. “The main characteristic of Verbo in São Luís will be the practices that are more connected to ancestral peoples, to descendants of indigenous peoples, because there are a large number of artists there who work in this area. It is a place marked by religiosity, ancestry and music. And, in São Paulo, we are going to make a kind of potpourri of all this”.

Between 2005 and 2007, Verbo only presented performances by guest artists. As of 2008, it started to make an open call through notices. In that first year, says Gallon, there were 400 subscribers – in this edition, they received 300 proposals, of which only about a dozen correspond to direct invitations. According to him, the show is not made from an a priori curatorial approach.

“Samantha [Moreira, coordinator of Chão SLZ and also curator of the event] and I always create editions based on the projects we receive, we read everything, identify some issues that appear, and, based on them, we build the curatorship of each edition” , account.

“When we articulated this partnership with Pinacoteca do Ceará, we thought it was important to have a person also from this new institution, accompanying the selection of projects. Also because we are a foreign body in the scenario of Fortaleza, which is very fertile”, continues Gallon. “Having Carolina [Vieira, artistic manager of the institution] with her was great, because she brought the contexts of Fortaleza. He could tell us 'look, this artist here is important'”.

Gallon says this 17th edition is very special. “Since 2016, with everything we've been through in recent years in Brazil, most of the projects had a very intense political and activist content. With the change from 2022 to 2023, we felt a transformation in the content of the projects. This edition is not only more comprehensive in terms of territoriality, because it spreads to Fortaleza, but also in terms of its themes, which are more comprehensive and universal”.

As an example of the greater plurality of contents that the 17th edition of Verbo covers, Gallon cites the Danish artist Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, whose performance will question the role of the tourist in the post-pandemic world, whether it is a mere observer or an interference. And yet the work of the Mexican artist Tania Candini, a recurring name in the show, who works a lot with women's issues these days, and will perform at the Galeria Vermelho, in Sao Paulo.

“She will present an action that is a choir of women that emits the sounds of female animals in a situation of alertness, surveillance, territorial defense, mating”, says the curator. “She is pointing to a universe that is not human, a super relevant discussion, because the rights of nature are being discussed more and more”.

The list of guest artists also has names like Aline Motta (RJ), Yhuri Cruz (RJ), André Vargas (RJ), the duo Eduardo Bruno and Waldírio Castro (CE), Elilson (PE), among others. About Bruno and Castro, Gallon points out that they have “a very powerful work in Fortaleza and are going to do a performance called Homophobic rehabilitation clinic“. In the action, which will start in the center of Fortaleza and will end at the Pinacoteca, the performers will distribute flyers advertising the fictitious clinic, together with a portable speaker that plays a looping jingle from the establishment.

The recurrence of guests, explains Samantha, has a reason for being. In his view, they are fundamental artists within this practice, and Verbo, in addition to being an annual festival of performances, “is also a training and research process, which accompanies the evolution of the work of these artists, something that, in turn, creates expectations among the public to see them again”, he says. For the curator, this continuity also makes the exhibition a reference in the segment, “a heritage of memory about the practice of performance in Brazil and abroad as well”.

Samantha also comments on the programming of São Luís, whose production she naturally follows more closely. In the capital of Maranhão, she emphasizes the desire to create a flow between local and foreign artists, understanding the programming as something not only aimed at the public, but also for the training process of the participants.

“Aline Motta and Yhuri Cruz, both from Rio, have very close research with Maranhão. And they don't go just to carry out the performances, they stay for an expanded time, which allows us to create other networks, moorings and bonds, to encourage local production. Many of these artists want these encounters, these bridges”, he concludes.

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