Performance: LAZULI #002FA7 Nanogaleria, Lisbon

Performance at Nanogaleria, Alvalade in Lisbon on October 14th. Curated by Luisa Santos and Ana Fabiola Mauricio and presented with the support of Miguel Palma.
Image credit: Fausto Ferreira

Examining the lineage of the colour ubiquitously known as Ultramarine, this performance engaged the painted body in dialogue with poetic verse to trace the contentious history of this hue. Commencing from its birth in the mountains of Badakhshan, Afghanistan, as Lapis Lazuli, through to its import across the mediterranean as Ultramarine – or ‘Beyond the Sea’ – and eponymously appropriated by French painter Yves Klein, the work raises the lifeline of this colour as a metaphor for colonisation, capitalism and patriarchy.

The collage acts as homage to Portuguese artist Helena Almeida who, in her 1977 work ‘Study for Inner Improvement’, appears to ingest the famous hue in an act widely lauded as a feminist subversion of the patriarchal hubris espoused by Yves Klein; the artist controversially painted nude women with his patented binder and directed them to move their bodies on canvas. Almeida’s act – consistently denied by the artist as a reflection of the Frenchman’s blue – nevertheless represented a performative reclamation and an enactment of the Anthropophagy Manifesto of Oswald de Andrade. The iconic text which inspired a generation of Brazilian artists to reclaim their identities through the symbolic devouring of the European coloniser’s culture informed Almeida’s predecessors such as Lygia Clarke and Helio Oitica, and thus signifies the ongoing imprint of a revolutionary concept.

Can a colour be colonised to imbue certain subjectivities? If so, what does it mean to ‘eat’ those subjectivities and reconstitute them through agentic acts of bodily transformation? What does it mean to wield this colour upon my own skin? To enact it with the force of performative agency and challenge its ownership?

Transcript of recording:

CALL IT A SHATTERING, 
A SHAKEN EARTH UNHOLDING, 
A CRYSTALLINE FOLDING, 
INWARDS INTO FORM. 

A PROTOLITH ROCK IS METAMORPHOSED IN HEAT AND 
PRESSURE. IN THE MINES OF BADAKHSHAN, AFGHANISTAN,
NEAR THE OXUS RIVER . A LONG AND DIFFICULT PROCESS OF REMOVING IMPURITIES. 
TO EUROPE FROM TRADERS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN –  
A  NAME: BEYOND THE SEA.

BLUE HAS NO DIMENSIONS, IT IS BEYOND DIMENSIONS 
WHEREAS THE OTHER COLOURS ARE NOT. 
THE FRENCHMAN SOUGHT HIS DOMINION OVER THE COLOUR
OF HIS OBSESSION PATENTING IT IN 1960:
INTERNATIONAL KLEIN BLUE.
NUDE WOMEN HIS HUMAN PAINTBRUSHES
IMPRINTING THEIR BODIES UPON A CANVAS BEFORE A LIVE
ORCHESTRA. HIS DESIRE FOR HIS BEAUTY TOXIC, KILLING HIM 
AT 34. THE WORLD DECONSTRUCTING HIS FORMULA HEX #002FA7. 

A FRACTURED SOIL LEADING, 
A BLOODLINE SEEPING, 
A SILK ROAD FORMING, 
FROM A MOUNTAIN SPLIT. 

PORTUGUESE ARTISTS HELENA ALMEDIA EATS IT IN 
HER 1977 WORK, STUDY FOR IMPROVEMENT HER BLACK AND 
WHITE IMAGE INHALES, CONSUMES AND WIELDS THE FAMOUS HUE . 
THE INGESTION THROUGH HER MOUTH LAUDED 
AS A FEMINIST SUBVERSION OF PATRIARCHAL HUBRIS. 
A QUIET SALUTE TO THE ANTHROPOPHAGY MOVEMENT.

CALL IT STONE OF LEZHVARD, 
LAZULUM’S LAPIS, 
ULTRAMARINUS, 
PIERE D’AZUR.
TARSILA DO AMARAL’S PAINTING INSPIRED A CALL TO 

CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN BRAZIL THE MANIFESTO BY HER HUSBAND 
OSWALDE DE ANDRADE BECKONED THE SYMBOLIC ABSORPTION AND DEVOURING 
OF THE COLONISER’S CULTURE A RESPONSE TO DOMINION. 
A CRITICAL AND IRREVERENT CANNIBALISATION OF OUR OWN OTHERNESS 
THAT IS ALWAYS MULTIPLE AND VARIABLE

HAULED ON BLOODIED BACKS 
FOR THE JEWELS OF MESOPOTAMIA, 
TUTANKAMAN’S DEATH MASK 
AND CLEOPATRA’S GAZE. 

I CUT AROUND MY FOOT
UNCERTAIN OF THE EDGE OF MY SHADOW
THE PIXELS DISTORT AND I FORGE THROUGH THEM
AN APPARITION IRIDESCENT ON MY RIB
IT IS LUXURIOUS, UNYIELDING OBSESSIVE

AN UNCANNY LAYER

ENCASED IN STONE.

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