top of page



Publicado em junho de 2020 no PEGADA, publicação independente lançada a propósito do ciclo de apresentações do PACAP 4 - Programa Avançado de Criação em Artes Performativas, do Forum Dança. Esta publicação conta com o contributo de todos os participantes da 4.ª edição do PACAP, coordenação de João dos Santos Martins e editorial de Rita Natálio. A publicação foi redigida em português de Portugal e do Brasil, inglês dos Estados Unidos da América, espanhol de Espanha, Cuba e Argentina, e francês de França.


Link para acessar  em )

bowertexto_image 2.jpg


( Published in June 2020 in PEGADA, an independent publication launched in connection with the presentation cycle of PACAP 4 - Advanced Program for Creation in Performing Arts, by Forum Dança. This publication has the contribution of all participants of the 4th edition of the PACAP, coordinated by João dos Santos Martins and editorial by Rita Natálio.The publication was written in Portuguese from Portugal and Brazil, English from the United States of America, Spanish from Spain, Cuba and Argentina, and French from France.  in )



Part I  


QOMUM begins with the composition of offal found in the backyard of the psychiatric hospital that hosts the project. A collection of small leaves, branches, withered flowers and stones that were collected in the garden, well known to the entire group. Tiny little things selected, preferably on the same day, or at some point before the start, or there are still moments before the beginning of this fiction that I narrate here.  


In the empty space there is a chair and a small table with a smooth surface. In silence, a gentleman enters walking with short steps. Head down, he sits down at the table. From a small box, he takes the traces of life found in the backyard. As in a board game, it starts a game without an opponent. Repositioning fragments of this still life, he composes his small landscape, his model of the world.  


Fluttering eyes. While suspending time with his visionary density, this man faces those who watch him: the audience. He fixes his eyes, crystallized at the spectators. Look like someone who sees more than all of us. Seduces in short breath and subtly panting. Little by little, fossil by fossil, the “master of time” installs the construction of a nest-space, silently choosing its parameters of beauty, of approximation between things. Delicate parameters of a visual architecture inspired by those made by a bowerbird. This whimsical, selective, and detail-oriented Australian bird whose ability to create colorful castles for mating nurtured the group's gaze, encouraging them to see the materials that are already nearby and thus speculate and imagine a less functional relationship between things.  The individual action of the “master of time” recreates the memory of a practice lived in qoletivo: everyone around a white table, acting on hold, choosing each gesture. Bowerhumans who practice silence together. First in the space itself and then in the entire plateau, making this plateau a common place capable of confusing authorship and  anonymity.  


After a while, two more people cross the initial moment. Like itinerant musicians, carrying cases with instruments on their backs, another construction begins in the background. Bass and drums — in explicit setup — vibrate noises in silence. Necessary choreography for what, little by little, between one plug and another, between one tuning and another, will offer density and arrhythmia, superimposing occasional sounds from the editing itself to what is already happening.  


I'm outside with everyone else. We are scattered on the periphery. I watch the moment when the box of all the sundries is finally emptied and set aside. Notice of a new moment to follow. We leave where we are bringing to hand objects found around, functional and disused things, materials that make up every space we pass through. From the usual chairs to broken broom handles in a state of disrepair behind doors. Every place has its stuff. Junk is spaces. And each space has a function and a standard that inhabits the interior of objects. The objects, more or less used, mobilize stories that, by contradiction, are rewritten in their immobility. Bowerplace: moving supposedly inanimate life forms.  


We start the new moment. To bring. Accumulate. Position. Expose everything that is visible but no one sees. At the same time, anyone can sit at the table, on the starting board, on the model of the world, and recompose the compost created by the previous person. Drum noises develop. Now the  bass pulses and a still discontinuous melody begins. Space fills with things. Space was never empty after all. After a while, there's nothing more to bring. Bass and drums meet. Song. Beat the common.  


The game is now with what is already on the ground. Put different things side by side. Change position. Take decision. Change the point of view. Zoom in. Zoom out. Create paths between things. To build together a landscape of an unstable and dynamic nature, but at the same time complete for its ever-becoming nature. Nothing lasts in the same place for very long. Confusing order and disorder. Organism and parts. Everything moves. Body that picks up, holds, puts on, delivers to the other. That completes the action of the other. Who observes even without seeing. Which becomes immobile for seconds too. An unlikely choreography that animates the relationship between living things. Things with wooden legs, plastic skin, foam hair, acrylic nails, brick head. Things move and are moved. Bodies-things. A great qoletive nest of bowerthings.  


There is less and less space for silence. The life that shakes. On the verge of imminent excess, I take a vase of jabuticaba tree bonsai in my hands and start a crossing on the ground in slow contrast to the entire accelerated landscape, which until then was in progressive and obsessive activity. As in levitation, I give the bonsai to someone, who takes it outside. A bonsai: miniature replica of the large jabuticaba tree planted among cements in the same backyard as the clinic house. Constant presence for decades. Vegetable amulet that symbolizes the need to share the meticulous knowledge of taking care of yourself and others. Vitality. Tradition that matters.      


A brutal interruption paralyzes everyone. A sound recording is heard, a voice over:  


— Stop!  


From now on, our action is a reaction to the imminent tyranny. What is the role of those who lead the group's practice? How to make sense and circulate individual fantasies? To circumvent the autocracy we formulated a list of commands to be proclaimed from the outside. A qualitative score. Orders that tell you what to do interspersed between minutely calculated seconds of silence:  


—  Choose a place and go to it. 

“Hey, you two, run! 

"Everyone lifts someone off the ground." 

"Whisper something to someone." 

"Close your eyes." 

— Move from them. 

"Move covertly." 

“See locusts on heads.  


These commands were created as a resonance of the context lived inside and outside our backyard. Context of authoritarianism on the rise. Contemporary neo-fascism. Journalistic FactFiction. Brazil 2019. Colonial residues of imperial Brazil lived by Qorpo Santo. Qorpo Santo, the author who inspired us to make our list of orders as invented truths against the tyranny that is present in so many qoletival stories.  


"Each one go to an inhospitable place and stay there." 

"Scream without sound for a minute." 

"Watch who sees you."  


Our list is a response to the control that emerges as a reaction to open-mindedness processes, a desperate tendency to regulatory conditioning, to different types of outbreak containment, the permanent search for drug stability. Answer: If so, then we will all be “rule shitters”! Making orders fulfilled fun. Playing in the ground. Exposing the score as transparent and fragile. We capture the autocratic operativeness and then deactivate its presence and performance in living bodies. "Obey by laughing inside your face."


— Torment yourselves. 

— Distort yourselves. 

— Make a symphony!


Extended silence. Commands have run out. So, we simply changed our place, room, point of view. We position ourselves for the symphony. Our sung torment. Now, we are all organized on two wheels. One inside and one outside. The wheel is a centripetal force. We breathe. We exist with our eyes closed. Little by little, like a small breath of air, voices swarm from their mouths. Almost inaudible evocations. An image: air balls that explode little by little in the boiling water. Vibrate the vocal chords in an “ô” sound. Scratching, once more, this time together, the silence. Reduce language to the minimum air that comes out of the mouth.  


First: voice and break pills. Listening. Second: recompose the word torment, in syllables, in fragments. Separate letter from word, sense of sound, voice from speech. Declaiming an excerpt of a rhythmic poem, internal echo reduced to a single word: 


I also am. 

I'm fine. 


Third moment: pulse and repeat. Say the same body of word until its meaning is disenchanted. One in time, another in setback.





We are in our ritual potency, de-spelling the lived meaning of the word torment, incarnating it. Sitting with the group from the setback, I listen and watch the agitation build in my body. I trust that listening is capable of revealing what emerges as the group's changing force. Listening, we go progressively towards the apex.


On the way up, the electronic and melodic sound of the bass gradually drags the voices out. It becomes a tsunami. Overlaps. The voice mutes us. We take the wrist to the body. The pulse externalizes. It becomes matter of motion. We became a wave. We become flow. Pulse becomes impulse.  


Wave. Wave that splashes impulses of desire between the joints. The skin on the elbow falls vertically. The skull bone shakes to the ceiling. The belly muscles twist to prepare for a turn on itself. Skin, muscle and bone: layers filled with desires. Joints: empty spaces, filled with air, in bodily movement. We are at full boil and the air around us heats up. Individual and group movement intuits the outside, desires expulsion. Our attention is to concentrate the group in a concave sense and each one in a convex sense. Magnetism. Vibrant affection between bodies. The wave is already a whirlwind.


Until someone strays, escapes down the slope, invades the outside, crosses a line and disappears. One by one follows this same crack created. We went out in procession, this in-line version of the wheel. What remains is emptying. The noise in your ears when you lie in bed after a night of partying.  


Three of us reappear to make an invitation: an address. A woman and two attendants wear imperial attire and organize a small platform. All guests are seated. Nothing happens. The woman is about to announce one of the main premises of the QOMUM: the sense of community is something to always be invented. There's a pile of books somewhere. She is ready to start.


And he says, "—Ten laws to be who I am." Then begins an obsolete list of aphorisms created by the group. A series of fictional confessions that gain the status of universal law. Truths that are camouflaged in a social invented by us. The woman, at the microphone, continues:  


— 1. Wear plain white socks. 

—2. Be loving and hateful at the same time. 

— 4. Trying to stay in shape. 

— 8. Don't snore. 

— 4. Enjoying walking. 

— 5. Having sexual and loving fantasies constantly, in everyday life, without others noticing. 

— 8. Serve only for yourself. 

— 10. Get lost in hiding. 

— 9. Seek shelter and coziness. 

— 1. Enjoying children's food. 

— 4. Having ideas and not realizing them. 

— 2. Be blocked. 

— 1. Enjoy eating cod. 

— 5. Wanting to be rich. 

— 9. Die early too. 

— 3. Carrying out many tasks at the same time. 

— 10. Not being patient, being patient.


Disruption. The repulsing battery produces a deafening cacophony. We bowerhuman things, who were there camouflaged in the contemplative landscape, jumped up. We quickly gathered all the bodies present in a single sculptural heap, forming a kind of vertical temple. When construction is finished, someone strays from the temple and, looking at the fake totem, shouts aloud something about words and lies. We, the others, remain still,  dancing with eyes in secret.  


In a postfacio atmosphere, like a current of civil construction, we started to pass from hand to hand each of the things brought, emptying the space. Meanwhile, a girl gets up. Walk slowly, watching what happens. She sits bent over at the same smooth-surfaced table and, with delicate hands, moves her version of a mockup of the world, her solitary board game. He takes small papers from his pocket with the words: I am not life I am death I am. With serenity, he recomposes these words in different ways until, finally, he constructs the sentence: “I am life, I am not death”. Get up and leave.   


Part II  


The text in part I is a rewrite of our QOMUM. A translation of a performative script into an account that flirts with the fictional, which is interested in deviating from the objectivist order of language to offer it an outline that is both personal and external to me. A writing that narrates, at the same time that remembers, that invents, that moves away and gets so close that it gets lost, but that, with time, gets up and does want to communicate. A writing that, in order to do it, had to start from the end, it was necessary to turn around and then, in a loop, resume writing itself in its power as a witchcraft, healing and Quomuns invention.  


QOMUM is and was this - a performative act created in 2019 after six months of immersion in the artistic-clinical practice developed by the Aberto Group of Theater and Clinic of Instituto A Casa, a psychiatric treatment institution based in the city of São Paulo, precursor of the anti-asylum fight in Brazil in the 1980s. In the day-to-day of the project developed, it was law: if you are unwell, delusional, depressed, absent, it is precisely at the QOMUM where it makes sense to be. That year, we created a possible space to succumb together.  


The group is open, heterogeneous, unstable and has existed for over 15 years. I have been part of the coordination team for 5 years, being mobile and under permanent review the responsibilities of clinical support and artistic direction of the project. 

Taking as a starting point the life and writings of Qorpo Santo and, in dialogue with three other guest artists intrigued by the co-existence between performing arts and the clinic of madness, we give our kick to this creation.  


Qorpo Santo was a Brazilian playwright, poet, journalist and typographer who lived from 1829 to 1883, being born in Rio Grande do Sul and living most of his life in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil. With his birth name José Joaquim de Campo Leão is known for having been the precursor of the “theatre of the absurd” or “surrealist” even before this vanguard was constituted as an artistic movement in Europe. Author of Ensiqlopèdia or six months of an illness, he was diagnosed as monomaniac by psychiatric protocols at the time. As a member of the nineteenth-century southern elite, he embodied in his writing the paradox of being both a libertarian from its folly and a moralistic and conservative man. His Ensiqlopedia was built during the period he was hospitalized, was printed in his own typography, sat on the shelves for over a hundred years, despised for being considered a document of personal folly, only to be reactivated at first by the criticism of the modernist movement in the Brazil and then from the 1960s onwards when Qorpo Santo came to be understood as an author out of his time. With a multifaceted writing, from incomplete, disconnected and often incomprehensible theatrical comedies to ordinary poems, aphorisms, lists of orthographic laws, newspaper articles, letters addressed to judges, doctors, journalists, reading Qorpo Santo is often lost in an emptiness of meaning is to lose yourself in front of a writing loaded with juxtapositions, leaps, multiple themes at a slippery speed. His writings, in which he assumes, at different times, not to have the habit of reading after writing, give the feeling of being raw and unfinished, expressing, in most cases, aspects of a fictional biography contorted under the limits of (in ) communicability of logical and rational thought.


Compulsively writing stories, poems, characters, truths and useless things like pieces of a fictional body that is both individual and collective was one of the first provocations that contact with Qorpo Santo's work prompted us to make our own. QOMUM then began to be created as a composition of individual and self-referenced fictional experiences in order to become part of the same collective situation. In a challenge that borders on vertigo, we begin by evoking our ability to invent “itself”, creating and remaking brief symbolic narratives, fabulous identities; wearing and modeling masks made as cutouts of the multiplicity that inhabits us, telling invented biographies, moving gestures, voices of the other, others of the self.  


We were finding some ethical-artistic-clinical principles specific to the project and building, little by little, a situated therapeutic aesthetic. Among them: adjusting the word to the gesture to give shape to the life and death drive; trusting the transparency of the method as a sustaining pact and erupting the creative force of the group; reading the “scene” in its dimension inseparable from “life”, empowering itself with the fictional outline as a tool for health and creation; naming our performative practice as a fictional frame, a place to inhabit a non-binary dimension of care and creation, making processes of healing and madness co-exist.  


The work took place in a ritual pulse with faithful meetings on Wednesdays. Text and body entangled in a six-month procession, resulting in three public openings of the process and five presentations in other psychiatric treatment institutions and in different cultural spaces in the city.  


I realize that the contortion that was necessary in this project was to find ways to materialize our distrust of standardizing models of human subjectivities, seeking to circumvent crystallized readings that persist in distinguishing normality from nonsense as a measurable scale of value in relation to the degree of truth. In other words, it was necessary to keep us in question about how to find space in an artistic-clinical practice to distrust binary models of thoughts that not only oppose but qualify as real and fictional, fantasy and consciousness, invention and fact, normal and unusual, as attributes of a healthy sociability or not.  


In order to reincarnate this universe in writing, I tried to touch on readings that could accompany me in the process of looking again and expanding the experience lived in QOMUM.  From these companion voices, I hear echoes of the Brazilian anthropologist Renato Sztutman in his essay  Reactivate witchcraft and other resistance recipes based on the idea of reclaim proposed by Isabelle Stengers. Stutzman dialogues with the notion of reclaim as a concept-action that can be associated with ideals of reappropriation, reconquest or repossession, and whose Stengers focus is linked to make-thinking practices about the urgency of reactivating skills marginalized by the modern world. capitalist, such as magic and sorcery. Practices judged as irrational or “quackery” and subject to discredit and elimination of their agents.


The urgency of resuming such practices is not, according to Stengers herself in Reactivating Animism, just a discursive concern or about thought structures, but fundamentally ethical and political concerns whose community experience is what really matters to be recovered. In his words, "to reactivate means to recover and, in this case, to recover the capacity to honor the experience, every experience that matters to us, not as "ours", but as an experience that "animates" us, that makes us witness what does not it's us". In other words, reclaim as a form of resistance and recovery of a “common” sense of living, which resonates with both a political and therapeutic purpose.  


Resisting in QOMUM, in resonance with Stengers, meant creating spaces for coexistence and the creation of possible and improbable fictions, facing our practice as a continuous action to disentangle the reason versus unreason binarism that the modern Western tradition is so interested in keeping intact. Resist because we trust that by creating together others of ourselves we open ourselves to the possibility of anesthetizing, even temporarily, the capitalistic capture of insanities, whose main artifice is to supply the vital forces of invention, sensitivity and communication between realities to put stigma in its place of a normative sociability. We resist when we talk about alchemy in inventing the self as a plastic activity that, depending on the angle you see, can be considered both therapeutic care and poetry. We resist when we reinforce that madness does not exist in itself, that fiction can be “medicine” and “poison” at the same time, and that our ability to animate the experience of inventing and caring together is common.

bottom of page