João Fiadeiro [PT]
From afar it was an island is the title of a children's book by Italian designer Bruno Munari. In the book, Munari photographs a series of stones and rocks he found in southern Italy, organizing them to illustrate some of the principles and premises that underpin his practice and thought. Among them, the simple realization that perception is intimately bound up with context and relation, where a small change of perspective or scale is sufficient for a line to become a road, a particle of dust to become a planet, a stone to become an island.
From afar it was an island
João Fiadeiro's performance doesn't rely on the book directly, but what he and his collaborators seek in terms of quality of presence, duration and attention is rooted in the principles and games of perception that the book addresses.
From afar, what the performers say and do seems to make sense. Their movements follow a logical system - a sense of beginning, middle and end - that we recognize in our bodies and in the bodies we interact with daily (real or fictional, present or absent). But as time passes, we realize that those bodies are going nowhere and that they represent nothing more than their own presence. This doesn't mean that they are going in circles. They are going somewhere, to a place they never left. A place where time is simultaneously suspended and expanding. A place where the end and the beginning overlap; the inside and the outside are reversed; and the center and the periphery blend. If they succeed (if they find this place and are able to share it), they fulfill what seems to be the only function of a work of art: to offer itself to the imagination.
João Fiadeiro performed at the first Danças na Cidade festival in 1993.