Aqua Viva: A mobile performance in Lisbon and Porto


Aqua Viva: A mobile performance in Lisbon and Porto

At night, a deep blue hearse slowly winds its way through city streets. It moves slower than the pedestrians around it. The glass enclosure illuminated from within is adorned with blinking lights, flowers, and kitsch paraphernalia. As hypnotic tones and voices emanate from the vehicle, the female body inside begins to come alive, to pulse and flow. Pallbearers dressed in black accompany the vehicle on each side, and distribute printed pages to the curious public. One might expect the text to be words from a strange cult leader or warnings of the approaching Armageddon…but one finds poetic words and metaphysical reflections of the most spellbinding nature. They are passages from the Brazilian author Clarice Lispector, taken from her 1973 novel, Água Viva.

Lispector, like all dead artists, has the power to speak to us from beyond the grave through their surviving works. This hearse does not evoke a ritual of death, quite the opposite: it celebrates that through art we have the potential to live on.  Through their creations, we can become surprisingly intimate with artists whose physical bodies are long dead. We can reflect on how some aspects of life are timeless, such as our fascination with and fear of death, and how existence is in a constant state of flux. We become aware that our lives are played out in the paradoxical tension between continuity and change.  This performance is a reflection about this strange form of communication, drawing upon many of the temporal, musical, and metaphysical themes found in Água Viva.

The Swedish choreographer Carima Neusser will perform to a specially designed soundscape created by the Portuguese musician Garcia da Selva. This experimental soundscape is constructed from audio taken from a rare 1977 interview with Lispector on Brazilian television. Her words, distorted and amplified, shed light onto her creative process, thoughts on death, her relationship to the reader, and the diverse confluences of her inspiration – providing an arrhythmic dynamic for a choreography performed in her honour.

The hearse will traverse the streets of Lisbon and Porto for one night only performances. In each city this journey will culminate with a celebration at select art venues, providing an opportunity for viewers to engage in dialogue with the artists. Opening up conversations about creativity, death, immortality, the flow of time – and whatever other thoughts the procession might provoke.

The project is a collaboration with Oporto and Damas in Lisbon as well as Maus Habitos in Porto where it forms a part of the Vivarium Festival. It is a collaboration between Katarzyna Pabich, Randolph Albright, Per Huttner, Carima Neusser, Garcia da Selva and Desirée Klein. The Swedish artists’ contribution is supported by the Swedish Arts Grants committee.