Performance; terracotta masks, acrylic, machine sewn and altered garments.
Namoradeiras are popular Brazilian souvenirs made of clay and modeled after the mixed race or black female figure. Their name translates loosely to “flirtatious”; they are busts that typically rest on windowsills looking out onto streets with blank, dream-like facial expressions (presumably waiting for a lover from within their domestic confinement). I wanted to experiment with the colonial and decorative connotations of the Namoradeira by physically embodying them in front of landscapes in Colorado. Through this performance, this body of work has begun to touch upon my interests in alienation, escapism, and Western “discovery” at the expense of the colonized body across time and continental borders.
7 minutes (2-minute excerpt) Full version of video available upon request.
Brazil became the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1888. Between the late 19th and mid 20th centuries, the government enacted the initiative of embranquecimento (whitening) as a means to melhorar a raça (improve the race). The immigration wave from Europe that ensued served to racially reconstruct a predominantly black nation.
Some of the most violent gestures enacted on the body begin with language.
Sometimes it is taught at home, and sometimes it is taught in the hallways of your school. Sometimes it happens down the street on your walk home. You learn to be complicit. You learn to smile and say thank you between two tongues. Because a rejection in either language weighs just as much.
The process for this performance started with the object of the pink cue cards. I tried to find a way in which they could be used interactively. I remade them on a bigger scale, wrote a script, found a dress at a thrift store, and created a character that chaneled my 2nd grade English teacher in Brazil. She made us repeat the same phrases in English, even though I was already fluent.
My 9th grade English teacher in America would force us to say “thank you” when we were called on to speak. If you forgot to thank her, she would silence you and call on someone else. It became a privilege to express my voice and ideas. I slowly stopped speaking out of fear.
Experimental Animation, 3 minutes
Lighter than a Brown Paper Bag, but darker than a diner napkin, only slightly warmer than a standard flesh-tone Crayola crayon. My mother says the winter has turned me yellow. But not before she insists that I too am white (and far too American).
Narrated in Portuguese with English subtitles.