"Chão-Pão", second episode of "Extinction is forever", a project conceived by Nuno Ramos. Photo: Matheus Brant

EIn memory of everyone who lost their lives in the pandemic, a flame was lit this week at Sesc Avenida Paulista. A small zippo lighter, which would normally hold the flame for about fifteen seconds, has been lit and will stay lit for a year uninterrupted. The sculpture is the first episode of Extinction is forever, a multilingual project conceived by Nuno Ramos and carried out by Sesc Sao Paulo with the support of the Goethe Institute. Closed to visitors, the work can be appreciated on the initiative's website, where it will be broadcast live until the fire is extinguished. 

Involving visual arts, literature, music, theater, dance and cinema, the project is composed of seven episodes, developed through dialogues with artists from different origins and languages, such as writer Noemi Jaffe, filmmaker Jorge Bodanzky, actress Edna de Cássia , choreographer Eduardo Fukushima and director Antônio Araujo. “It's almost the configuration of a body that walks together, a chamber orchestra, in which these works have to play with each other, but have a lot of independent voice”, explains Nuno Ramos.

Despite the individual potency of each act and its own concepts, the episodes revolve around the same question: the search for a poetic response to the Brazilian conjuncture and the pandemic, a situation that for Nuno is configured through a series of extinctions. “What I feel is that we are not going to go back to what it was before through an election. We’re going to need a lot more,” he says. And he adds: “There is the enthronement of violence itself in the Presidency of the Republic, as a project that had the endorsement of the elite and popular resentment itself. Brazil is going through an unbelievable tragedy, not only because of Covid-19 – which is a kind of explicit visualization of this -, but also in the minute destruction of an entire institutional plot.”

The artist Nuno Ramos during the rehearsals of Chão-Pão. Photo: Matheus Brant

For the artist, this situation was aggravated as the official political world became paralyzed, unable to overcome the differences and point out a way of reaction to barbarism. “I have the impression that we really need to create this place of breathing, of exchanges, of sublimation, of symbolizing life. So I think there's a little bit of this despair: how do I deal with a situation like the one we're going through?”. Along with other artists, Nuno acted for culture, expressing himself through multiple languages ​​simultaneously. “It is a way of making art 'hot', a production in motion, which goes against the current state of apathy and responds to the issues that run through the public space today - such as mourning, violence, the threat to institutions and the relativization of our history”, he declares.

A arte!brasileiros talked with the artist about the concepts that involve each of the seven episodes of Extinction is forever. Currently set up as an artistic laboratory. The project is still under development and is expected to last a year, the time the flame is lit in the zippo.

on the way to extinction

If in 2020, in reverse gear – a performance made by the artist in partnership with Teatro da Vertigem and commissioned by the Berlin Biennale – sought to reverse the government's neglect of energy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, honoring its victims, FLAME deepens this idea, by configuring itself as an artistic gesture of mourning. In the coming weeks, the public will be able to actively participate in the work, joining the live broadcast. “If a person in Canada wants to build a fire and send us, we put the fire on the broadcast. Will another get a can of fuel under an overpass in Jacarepaguá? I set his fire. So, we keep a live flame lit, in a kind of monument of the eternal flame”, explains Nuno.

Color horizontal image. Zippo lighter lit. CHAMA virtual monument, by Nuno Ramos, part of the EXTINCTION IS FOREVER project.
“CHAMA”, a virtual monument that makes up the project “Extinction is forever”, by Nuno Ramos. Photo: Eduardo Ortega

Between the 28th and 30th of May, bread floor airs, always at 20:30 pm. In this episode, a group of performers sets up a floor made with tiles and bread unfit for consumption. On this terrain, they walk and dance, breaking and modifying this bread-ground. In the middle of the scene, two monitors loop footage of the films God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun e earth in trance, by Glauber Rocha, in which the line “it's not the people's fault” is present. “The actors play a little bit with the ambiguity of that sentence and that structure. With this bread sustaining and being torn apart by this ground of which it is the original base, which it is the one who holds”, he explains. “So there's something about the loss of popular horizons, the loss of vocalization of what was still vocalized a few years ago and that was disappearing.”

This difficulty in expressing situations is also present in the third episode of Extinction is forever, built from The Disasters of War, from Goya. In it, we will have a living painting (live painting), in which actors dressed as Napoleonic soldiers vocalize the harsh testimonies of people who lost their relatives in the war, focusing on the victims of state violence. The brutality of the reports makes them difficult to hear and Nuno sought to bring this idea to the presentation. For this, the texts were translated into Braille and then transformed into a percussive score. “In Braille, we have two points per house: a strong beat and a weak beat,” he explains. It is from this that the musicians play the reports, superimposing the speech of the actors. “We are dealing with the impossibility of representing such violence, through the crazy use of all languages”, he says.

Record of “The Disasters of War”, third episode of “Extinction is Forever” Photo: Matheus Jose Maria

Attacks on the environment and indigenous identities are another point of barbarism that has been denounced in recent years. It is in order to delve deeper into the ecological and anthropological discussions that the film Iracema – an amazon sex, by Jorge Bodanzky and Orlando Senna, is resumed in Iracema Speaks. The episode, which is scheduled to be released in August, works as “a kind of repair and also an update on these issues”, explains Nuno. For this, Edna de Cássia, the film's main actress, who left her artistic career shortly after the award received for her performance, revisits the text she interpreted in the 70s, directing and interfering in a reenactment.

The fifth episode focuses on the controversy around monuments spread throughout Brazil. Elaborated in collaboration with the writer Noemi Jaffe, the work seeks to reopen a statue in one of the squares of the city of São Paulo. However, instead of the authorities commonly called to speak at these events, a sequence of reopenings invites people from various social configurations, who make speeches from their dissident experiences – “as if trying to rediscover a space of meaning for that sculpture that no longer wants to say nothing, or that means something very bad, that carries a very violent memory”.

Then, grief returns to the scene. helicopter, sixth episode, returns to Antigone, who faces the State in order to be able to watch over the body of her dead brother. In Extinction is forever, Greek tragedy is updated; Creon, the State, is now represented by a war machine: a helicopter. With its military language and the memory of violence and murder that it carries as it passes over Brazilian favelas, the aircraft faces Antigone, who on the ground expresses herself through funk, projected by speakers facing the sky.

From mourning to actual extinction, the project ends with the episode that gives it its name. A short play, written by Nuno Ramos and directed by Antônio Araújo, tells the story of the last giant tortoise, which was unable to reproduce and took its genetic code with it. Next to a surviving character from The War of the Worlds, by HG Wells, the tortoise talks about his life and the extinctions that remain in his memory.

The project will be made available in virtual form over the course of one year on the Extinction is forever, as well as on the social networks of Sesc Av. Paulista, and is subject to schedule changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, as Nuno Ramos puts it in the initiative's basic text: “We live something on the order of the irreversible, in a proportion whose design is difficult to define. We can lose everything, so whatever we do now is dramatic and decisive. The time is ours.”

Horizontal image in shades of red, with black writing. Reproduction of the main screen of the EXTINCTION IS FOREVER online platform. A lit zippo lighter is covered by a series of thin red lines, which create a filter of color in the image. On the zippo one reads in capital letters, with black letters, EXTINCTION IS FOREVER, and the names of each of the episodes of the project are spread out, being HELIOPTER, CHÃO-PÃO, MONUMENT, FLAME, IRACEMA SPEAKS, THE DISASTERS OF WAR and EXTINCTION IS FOREVER.
Main screen of the online platform “Extinction is forever”. Photo: reproduction

Extinction is forever 
WHERE: Click here to access the project's virtual platform
WHEN: 25/05/2021 a 25/05/2022

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