In Brazil, more than 12 million people have some physical or intellectual disability, which corresponds to 6,7% of the population according to data from the IBGE. The number increases to 24% when considering people who have some difficulty in a lesser degree of locomotion, vision or hearing. However, it is still uncommon to see these bodies occupying the stages, or the audiences, being responsible for the works in an exhibition or for admiring them in the corridors of museums, especially when we leave the Rio-São Paulo axis.
“It is not people with disabilities (PCD) who are not interested in art, it is artistic and cultural producers who are not interested in producing content that is accessible”, says Moira Braga. For the dancer, actress and teacher, the process is cyclical: if artistic production is not accessible to people with disabilities, it becomes more difficult for them to develop interest or become artists. Sculptor Rogério Ratão joins in and adds that in any case, people will only like the arts if they are stimulated. “And when we have a disability, there is a lot of people thinking they know what is and what is not necessary for us.”
However, the artistic stimulus is not only in signaling concrete aspects of a painting, or in the transmission of the words of a song through Libras. Visually impaired, Ratão exemplifies with accessibility in the visual arts: “If you describe the starry night of Van Gogh, he will need to explain the brushstrokes, the accumulation of paint and other aspects of the work”, because it is through the description that he manages to understand the painting. In his case, as a person who has already seen, he creates the image in his head, like someone reading a book, but shares that people who were born blind tend to build the work in their minds from other sensory references. So if you describe the starry night just like a scene of a night city, with a starry sky, trees in the foreground and the houses at the bottom of the frame, “the little house that comes to mind is the same drawing a child might make in school. So I want to understand which is Van Gogh's little house, which is Cézanne's little house, what is the specificity of each artist?”.
It is by signaling the techniques, style and characteristics of the painter that access is actually allowed to the work and not just any drawing. The sculptor shares that on many trips he went to museums in the company of his brother, so that he could describe the paintings in more detail. In some cases, when museums had limited time to visit certain works, they allowed them to take more time, so that Ratão could actually admire them. In other cases, he came across institutions that had tactile structures that allowed him to feel the works through reliefs, or with exhibition spaces that freed up specific hours so that blind people or people with low vision could touch some sculptures and thus better understand them. them.
In his professional experience, Leonardo Castilho gives us other examples of artistic stimulation. be in the play City of God – presented in sign language in Brazil and France -, in his activities as an educator at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo (MAM-SP), at the body slam, or in the music shows - in which he worked with interpretation in Libras -, he sought to go beyond simple information, allowing deaf people (like him) to have access to that art in form and content. As Castilho explains, accessibility needs to go beyond protocol. It is not just about including Libras or audio description, but about transmitting the aesthetic experience that art proposes – which involves a refinement of resources, greater preparation on them and constant consultation with PCDs. “Event planners hardly ever think of broader audiences when they're designing the project and budget,” he explains. “This can lead to scrapping”, adds Moira, who is also visually impaired, referring to the amount allocated to resources, which is often less than necessary. “The accessibility feature is a possibility that you are giving a spectator to enjoy that work, so if you do it anyway, it means that you don't care about this audience”, he points out.
In order to ensure a better transmission of her concepts and aesthetic proposals, performer and video artist Estela Lapponi acted differently. In the first opportunities with resources, she built them in dialogue with professionals in the area and, in one of her latest projects, the film Desecration, made audio description not an accessibility tool, but language, a constituent part of the work. However, she points out that this responsibility in some cases goes beyond producers and artists, it is linked to incentive laws and public notices. “I think that what I receive is still very little depending on the project. If you don't increase the budget, it will become an event: it's a resource day only, because I can't always have it.”
Welcome to the bipedal world
This stance, for Estela, has a structural root: we live in a bipedal world. The term is linked to the concept widely used by director, dancer and choreographer Edu O., which is not restricted to the scientific definition of the word, but to the structural idea that every body walks on its own legs, sees and hears, disregarding other bodies. possible existence – or seeing them as something that needs fixing.
João Paulo Lima's experience corroborates this view. At 26, he joined the technical course for Creative Interpreters in Contemporary Dance at the Porto Iracema das Artes School in Fortaleza. One of his legs amputated since he was 12 years old, the artist says: “There I had to get rid of the bipedal body. By memory, I had already disentangled myself, but not socially, because I think that even if you are born with a disability, you are socially required to be bipedal”. For Moira, it was also the dance that allowed her to go beyond the possibilities that she understood for herself: “We start working on the body and we start to understand each other better, freeing ourselves from our limiting beliefs”.
It was during their artistic studies that both Estela and João began to identify with the concept of the “intruder body”, a dissident body that causes estrangement when occupying different spaces. For them, it is because of this invisibility of non-bipedism that they are often not seen as simply artists, but as artists with disabilities, and thus “they are only remembered in art on commemorative dates related to disability, such as Virada Inclusiva, the Day of the Deaf, etc. .”, points out Castilho. For Estela, this is because “inclusion is unilateral. There is no exchange relationship, as there is no autonomy on the other side. It has no desire, it is an object and it is commodified. Who 'includes' generates profit, puts himself well on the tape and this corroborates a thought of charity – which is a construction that relieves the State and that privileged people feel guaranteeing their space in the kingdom of heaven”.
Therefore, as a continuation of her research on the intruder body, the artist creates the anti-inclusion manifesto. “When Boaventura de Sousa Santos brings the idea that Western thought is an abyssal thought, which creates distinctions, he elucidates very well the problem of inclusion; because there is a line that separates the visible world – bipedalism, whiteness, heterocisnormativity – and the invisible,” he explains. The performer believes that the world we live in – and art is not exempt from this structure – is based on visible and standard logic. “Inclusion makes us want to cross this border. But the logic that prevails is still the privileged one, and we will never break it if we keep thinking that this is the world we want to be in,” she explains.
Welcome to the intruder body
With hemiparesis (a partial paralysis), caused by a stroke at the age of 24, Estela Lapponi questioned herself for a long time about the meanings of disability and inclusion, which made her move from theater to dance, to inclusive dance, and finally to performance and the audiovisual. So she opposed the idea that she should play roles with little movement, or that there would be a specific place for her according to her “capacity”. In her projects, she puts the intruder body in focus, as a narrative builder.
For Rogério Ratão, capacitism becomes clear when some comments insinuate that he does not create the sculptures alone or show the difficulty in understanding that his sculptural creation is not based on the visual. The artist explains that he starts from the tactile for his entire artistic construction. “All my skin gives me some information. My body is my feedback. I use my fingers and hands as a unit of measurement and myself as an anatomical model,” he says. And it is this importance of the tactile that he conveys to his students – who can see or not – in the courses he teaches at MAM-SP.
João Paulo Lima also found himself faced with the enabling belief with his colleagues in the technical course, being constantly questioned about his ability to participate in certain classes or perform certain movements. After starting his authorial creations, he also starts from the idea of the intruder body and the relationships it establishes with the world and with society, whether in No'Tro Corpo – in which the artist takes his prosthesis to the stage and resignifies it by fitting it in unusual ways, counteracting the pressure to use it -, or in devotees – show in which the disabled body is shown as capable of being desired and desiring.
Perhaps what is being proposed in these different cases is no longer an inclusion, but another starting point, rather than a bipedal perspective. That is, the understanding that dissident identities are also builders of narratives and knowledge. As Estela concludes: “An intruder comes to be able to modify the system. If it does not change, it remains intruder; if it changes, it ceases to be. I want the intruding body to disappear.”