Este corpo que me ocupa

A conference-performance by João Fiadeiro and Paula Caspão, as part of the Body of Work project. This event, taking place between 2008 and 2010, will be revisiting part of the work, lines of thought and systems of work of João Fiadeiro.


A note on the title:
Este corpo que me ocupa
The Portuguese title refers to a fold: a life lived in-between two sorts of occupations that keep looping back and crossing one another, as in a two-pronged spiral. As such, it conveys the ambiguous location where this work ends and starts, for which a good solution in English could not be found. That is why we decided to leave it untouched, and wander a little while around the senses it touches instead, very much like snuffling dogs.
(In between though, let us risk an English translation down here, which will hardly sound like real English but can perhaps – who knows – hit the core of the circumstance in a short sentence (a very modest try): This body that occupies me is also my main occupation.)
To the snuffling then: in Este corpo que me ocupa, the verb ocupar [occupy] has at least two senses. It refers both to a body, namely to this body that inhabits me – almost as in a territorial occupation, a takeover, though not necessarily by explicit force –, and to this body as the issue that has become my main concern, my main activity, namely a compulsive, unavoidable activity.
Shortly, what we find in the title is a movement between modes of occupation, where this body that absorbs me, becomes the issue of my life, becomes my life: it becomes me. So that in the end the second sense of occupation as activity for life seems to loop back to the beginning, i. e. to the more obvious sense of occupation as takeover. And back, and forth again, and both at the same time, for I is always in-between – just like work.

All along the way, because of the two-sidedness it spreads all around, Este corpo que me ocupa will both emerge as a series of conference-demonstrations by João Fiadeiro and Paula Caspão, and as a solo-piece by João Fiadeiro.

The event and the trace, the happened and the remains.

If I had to summarise my modus operandi in a single word, that which motivates and defines me as an artist, I would say that I function and work with the remains. The remains is what is left behind, that which was forgotten (for there is no perfect crime). The remains is what creates emptiness. And it is the proof of the absence of presence. Or, more precisely, it is the presence of an absence. It is in the remains that we find the evidence that provides the beginning for the impossible task of re-building the world, once and again. I am attracted to this idea of knowing that something was here before me and that what remained, resisted.
The remaining is also what lies between the body and the presence of the other in the body, a permanent flight towards things that are not yet, towards things that might be(come). And this is what I am concerned about: how to show what is not there. How to work with such volatile a material as emptiness. How to present the in-between of things. And even more difficult, how to perform it?

The main issue

I have never been here, in this body. And if I ever was, I cannot remember. What I carry, every day, is an empty shell, which is once in a while filled with some sense, whenever someone looks at it. This gaze is what brings it to life. Without that gaze, I do not exist. Or rather, I do exist, potentially, in the imminence of being looked at, in a state in which anything can happen and where the world can become anything.

Para onde vai a luz quando se apaga?
September 2005

The central issue of Este corpo que me ocupa is, as the expression suggests, the body (or its absence, which is the same). This body I am referring to is, basically, an antibody, a sort of dark screen, an uncertain place of transit where images may be projected for short instants.
It is in this sense that I am interested in creating an object which can only be constructed by the audience, from the spectator's point of view, so that he/she can project on me. I am talking about working on the basis of their expectation and of stating, across the way, that I only exist in their gaze.
From the formal point of view, I want Este corpo que me ocupa to make way for the movement between the inside and the outside, between fiction and reality, between presentation and representation. In other words, the performative aspect of the conference will provide a counterpoint to my presence-absence as a lecturer and the other way around. I am interested in playing on the idea that the centre of activity of the lecturer lies beyond his body, whereas for the performer the goal is his own body.  I would like to work on this indistinguishable double-body that moves from discourse to action, from I say what I've done to I do what I've said, from the past to the present and the other way around. All this, if possible, without having anything changed, in order to keep everything where it is, or else: so that everything remains in-between.

Concept: João Fiadeiro
Performance: João Fiadeiro with Paula Caspão
Texts: Paula Caspão with João Fiadeiro
Dramaturgy: João Fiadeiro, Paula Caspão and Walter Lauterer
Set and Lighting Design: Walter Lauterer Sound design: noid / aka Arnold Haberl
Follow-up: David-Alexandre Guéniot
Production: RE.AL
RE.AL, structure funded by DGArtes (General Direction of the Arts) / MC (Portuguese Ministry of Culture)
Support: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris), La Porta (Barcelona), DGArtes (Direcção-Geral das Artes) / MC (Ministério da Cultura)

Picture Yann Le Hérissé and João Fiadeiro © RE.AL