Read the conversation between Luiz Camillo Osorio, PIPA Institute’s curator, and Iagor Peres, one of the Awarded Artists of PIPA Prize 2023:
1 — How has dance impacted your formation and the construction of your poetics?
I feel as if I’ve answered this question in so many ways, it’s even hard to reinvent a path to approach the question once again, but here we go… What we learn with our bodies remains and is transformed into the body itself. Dance is a language that, to this day, influences my way of thinking about spatiality and composition, since this language involves not only the presence of bodies, but also their movement, displacement and transformation within and with space. It is through the body and the contact with dance that the invisible takes shape, establishing an energy and attention field which arises from the encounter between bodies that exist in that same space. To perceive and deal with often implicit dynamics that affect our relationships is to understand that, depending on the situation, crossing a 10-meter-wide street might feel as if it was 5 or 50 meters, or even a kilometer, depending on what awaits on the other side, the reasons behind the crossing, and many other factors. It is also through the intersection of dance and other languages, such as video, that I had my first contact with the idea of a hybrid language. Something that, essentially, could only exist in that way, since it would have to exist in that in-between and at the boundary of both, to the point that, if one language was dissociated from the other, they would no longer present the same strength and shape. Another movement that made me realize the importance of dance in my work is the idea of the recipe. In many of my works, the recipe presents itself as a repertoire of gestures archived in the body, keeping its knowledge and continuously transforming, even if in small doses. Something, we could say, that is kept in a space of memory, but is constantly happening and being revisited, in the present, during the making. Beyond all this, the movement of matter itself makes me think that there is a choreographic gesture of composition, since some of the works already include movement in time and its displacement and design in space.
2 — Your movement towards sculpture emerges from your decision to take the protagonist role away from the body in the construction of language. Would that imply taking on materials as symbolic energies, as a play between what is formalized and what escapes?
People – sometimes even myself – often understand and describe this path of removing the body and approaching other corporealities as product of a desire guided towards sculpture, but it’s not necessarily that. The biggest challenge, which is still very much alive, is inhabiting the in-between of languages and developing a thought that includes corporealities and corporeities that challenge or have nothing to do with the classical and modern foundations and that, through inconformity, interlace languages such as performance, dance, sculpture and painting, pointing towards instability and transformation, transgressing from their conformation to a supposed disappearance in space. A commitment, then, of establishing a relationship with a materiality that has agency over its transformations and therefore escapes, never truly becoming evidence. Aside from that point, there are movements in some works’ languages which are set in a way that invites the rethinking of those limits, sometimes bringing some of those words among them, sometimes establishing a direct critical counterpoint on the naming of a language, sometimes not. Bringing all this to this conversation interests me, because it precisely shows that a symbolic play would not be enough to develop what I was seeking.
3 — Your work is political without being ideological, meaning that it is never evident or illustrative, maintaining a degree of indeterminacy that opens spaces for those who interact with it. It touches on issues of identity in a subliminal way, establishing a productive relationship between the said and the unsaid, the visible and the invisible. Could you talk about how you perceive politics in your work, and about this relation between arts and politics today?
I believe these political components in my work are connected to a desire of refusal and disturbance of that which, in a way, already guides, ethically and politically, those who are in touch with my work. It is more so than a wish to feed into massively widespread narratives of the last few years. I put an effort into seeking approaches that are based outside of the representational models experienced and revisited frequently. What happens when that which is given is the Thing itself that’s been put into question, and not a representation, illustration or abstraction of itself or something else, but an acting corporeality? In this sense, the idea that moves me has to do with a critical gesture over how the symbolic and everyday tools which unfold from the formulation of a racial arsenal are created and put into conformity, and how they are capable of depersonifying, producing and justifying death. This gesture is often seen by some as an approach to an identitarian issue, but that is not an issue I explore or even take interest on. I’m interested in thinking of alternatives in which the public, if attached to a normalized narrative guided by the conformations a habit of whiteness – that of stagnating things “in their due places” (be them symbolic, social, spatial, categorical or representational) because “that is how they’re meant to be” –, probably won’t have access to that which might not be so obvious, and perhaps not as given as it seems.
This is one of the movements that relates to what we could understand as unsaid, visible or (ex/im)plicit in a way, because at the end, in this relation, what catches my attention is this corporeality’s potential to expose in a direct and radical way the perspective of those who come to its encounter. Beyond other factors and corporealities that are also not obvious, I speak of a movement of symbolic transit of Things in which the corporeality would inhabit distinct categorical positions depending on who’s gaze it is under. That would sometimes lead to having its condition of being/existing linked to a specific jurisprudence in relation to more expressive institutions that shape, design and maintain the society we are part of, and that conduct, through the legal system, the possibilities and impossibilities of movement and agency. But beyond all this, all these Things keep on carrying their uncapturable aspect, since they can be anything you can imagine they are, none of it, or even something more.
And through this Thing that inhabits an elastic categorical terrain we may, perhaps, reten(s)e juridical compositions aiming to undermine the apparatus that often deny a shift in some bodies’ conditions of existence, beyond the limits of racial and categorical violence. I believe one of the tools that help us reflect on what I am saying here is the idea of frequency. Here, to frequent a body means developing tools that allow us to transform our idea of Things by realizing that something which at first sight seemed static is actually alive and mutable. I say this from the experience I’ve had exhibiting my work in institutions in which, when I would go visit the exhibition, the most interesting comments on the work would come from the people who worked there and frequented that space, not necessarily as visitors. That is, people who worked in the security and cleaning of the space, the education team and so on. I find it interesting to think that this powerful tool is closer to those who are thought to be further away from these circles of knowledge than to the agents that supposedly are already familiar with that knowledge, those notions and the place where Things belong.
4 — In your most recent works, starting from “When the matter is gone”, your work seems to take more interest in the disappearance of matter, dematerialization and energy propagation. Meanwhile, your sculptures seem to turn even more to the “structuring of dense bodies”. What is it that interests you in this dialectic relation between matter and energy, visible and invisible?
I don’t believe in the disappearance of matter, at least not in a disappearance linked to an idea of inexistence, nonpresence or anything that refers to that. In general, I believe in the presence and existence of all that seems not to inhabit any place. And in this inhabiting, the contradiction has become increasingly present, and the title “When the matter is gone” is a sort of release for this perspective I bring, because what we sometimes refer to as “dematerialization” is often linked or based on an experience of absence of factors linked to visuality, and to other senses such as touch, hearing and smell, that is, linked to a path of not finding common factors that give the basis for an idea of something “being or existing” materially. When, on the contrary, that which reaches a state of matter that transcends deflagration though any of these routes remains as material and present as a block of concrete, an idea or a fragment of an atom. There lays some of my curiosity… In the elastic, metamorphic and infinite possibilities matter presents us with. In this movement, I have been approaching corporealities and movements that are increasingly less visible, and at the same time, I continue conforming what you mentioned as a “structuring of dense bodies” since, even though they might appear polarized, these movements are in fact complementary movements of a same discussion.