Pain, pleasure and politics of the flesh
This article is from 2007.
In French, incarnat is a colour somewhere between red and pink, the colour of the flesh just under the skin. In Portugese, it translates as incarnato or carmino – crimson; in English the word is most reminiscent of our own incarnate; of the body, a point of universal understanding.
‘Sometimes I feel that the contemporary artistic world is too small, that we are only interested in ourselves,’ says Lia Rodrigues, artistic director of the internationally-renowned and defiantly political Brazilian company, Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças. ‘We know each other; I read this book, you too. We both saw this film. How, then, can we connect with the rest of the world? I needed to know if my work had relevance to more than this small circle of people.’
Four years ago, Rodrigues moved her company out of the city to the Favela de Maré, one of the largest, poorest shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro, intending to force the city’s artistic community out of its complacency. Incarnat, which she describes as a series of tableaux or ‘a book of poems, of haiku’, is her response.
‘What we found in the favela was life,’ she says. ‘Yes, there is the pain and the violence – the suffering that the people in the city expect – but really the favela is like any other city. Everything is happening there; pleasure, happiness. It was not in the end a question of pain, but of life, because life is constructed with pain and happiness together, and this is universal.’
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