Carlos Motta, still de "Corpo Fechado", 2018

“B

lack, slave, African, sodomite, sorcerer, exile”, says Paulo Pascoal, the actor who plays José Francisco Pereira, kidnapped from the Republic of Benin to Pernambuco in the 18th century, and sold as a slave. There, he used syncretism as a means of survival. In 1731 Pereira was tried by the Lisbon Inquisition for sorcery and sodomy.

The speech in the scene of Carlos Motta’s Corpo Fechado: The Devil’s work in Vermelho Gallery summarizes the issues surrounding Brazil today, roots of fascist racism that polarize the country. Motta, however, goes deeper into the film, associating slavery with inquisition clearly through Letter 31 – The Book of Gomorrah, written in 1049 by St. Peter Damian, considered the first text of the Catholic Church to condemn homoerotic practices.

Corpo Fechado: The Devil’s work was performed and exhibited in Portugal last year in a sophisticated staging that blends beyond the story of Pereira and Letter 31, excerpts from Walter Benjamin’s Theses on the Concept of History (1892 – 1940 ), canonical text of the critique of the conventions of historicism. Next to the movie is the projection of the video “I mark my presence with my own beliefs”, where Paulo Pascoal is interviewed by Motta and tells of the difficulties he experienced when he assumed his homosexuality in his native Angola.

This kind of multiplied mirror, where the real story of the character in the film is reflected in the very story of the actor who plays him, is key to understanding the We, the Enemy, show that occupies the entire gallery, and looks more like an institutional show that in a commercial space.

In it, Motta creates a clear narrative where the works are pieces that, on the one hand, address the emergence of prejudice against homosexuality, at the same time create elements that, far from relying on a discourse of victimization, goes in reverse to generate affirmation of queer culture.

Already on the facade of Vermelho this is seen by the appropriation of the pink triangle, which in Nazism represented gay men condemned to death, becoming the work Ways of Freedom: Triangle, a mural with its own large image and a poster with a historical line, which narrates, since 1500, facts related to both prejudice and its opposite, as the determination, now in 2019 by the STF that transphobia and homophobia are crimes.

It is in propositions like this that artistic practices cease to be illustration on a theme, to become catalysts of experiences, generating new forms of representativeness, questioning established patterns.

The whips displayed on the second floor of the gallery follow this same key, because if in the movie Corpo Fechado: The Devil’s work the whips are used as a form of martyrdom, in the series called Closed Body, they approach the fetish objects of gay culture. This hardcore scene, by the way, portrayed by Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 – 1989) in iconic images, as he inserts the whip into his anus, is appropriated by Motta, who re-enacts the 1978 photograph, darkening it, in a kind of context. of the show’s questions.

It is in the video We the enemy (2017), which gives title to the show, where the artist positions the central issue of the show. Created by the SPIT group! (Sodomite, Inverts, Perverts Together), composed by Motta, writer John Arthur Peetz and choreographer Carlos Maria Romero, the video is a compilation of dozens of derogatory and insulting terms, spoken by Greek artist Despina Zacharopoulos, as “perverts, bambi , dolls, pederasts, queues” with an emphatic conclusion: “we are and always will be the enemies ”.

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