Sergi Pares "Now it’s up to us to discuss, to come together, and to invent the near future."
Breno Caetano "This is the first time that I see people taking time. We breath more, we are much more sensitive. And I think art has to come from that place."
Breno Caetano and Sergi Parés are acrobats, dancers and choreographers as well as curious sensitive researchers of the body. With a background of multidisciplinary education, they perform for various companies, like Un loup pour l'homme, XY, Philippe Decouflé, Batsheva. Their research trip to Brazil was part of their project "Cornerstone", which is still in creation.
The atmosphere during this interview with Breno and Sergi was very special: Personal, collegial, calm and very vibrant at the same time. We were magnetized in listening to these two storytellers. Sometimes it was hard to ask the next question, because we were caught in the moment.
Katharina Are there any artists or groups that inspired you lately?
Sergi I would like to bounce back with something that i saw: it was Phia Menard with Motherhouse. It was amazing and I really connect to this right now. It was the show of the moment; it has a lot to do with rituals, with the nothing, the perception of time, with building and un-building. So for me, this time we live now is related to this show for different reasons. In the performance, Phia Menard is building a temple and it is more than one hour where not much is going on. It is very subtle, very minimalistic and I really loved it. And then I relate a lot to the paradox, to this moment in her show when the water comes and it is destroying all that she has build. She is basically asking us through the whole piece “How do you react to this?”, “Are you not going to come and help me if I’m not succeeding?”. So, when the destruction arrives, she is literally just looking at us and we do nothing about it. It’s so tragic, and at the same time I had to laugh. This is how I’m dealing with the situation at the moment.
Katharina Breno, what about you?
Breno Last year I saw a performance from Lia Rodriguez, she is a choreographer from Brazil. I liked her show and the context where it was presented and to whom she was presenting it. The name of the show is Furia. It is like a ritual or a trance, and Lia has her company based in a Favela in Rio de Janeiro. Actually, she builds up the show with no money. This is really interesting to see, because for many years we saw Europe as the center of information. I came here because when I was living in Brazil, I had the feeling that I need to know more. And now, we see that it is not like that anymore because Europe is just not that center anymore, things come from everywhere. And Lia is having so much power. So for the first time, I was seeing someone not from Europe giving such a strong message to European people. And it’s a piece about everything, it’s about the mass of information with which we are living now, about the loneliness, about the corruption, about our fears. And this in such a positive way, she was posting it: “Yeah, we are marginal because we live in the marge, but we are here now!” This really marks me very strongly and I was questioning myself: “What am I doing here?” So, it was really interesting to see that show, and it brings you in doubts when you leave it (laughs).
Katharina You said when you came to Europe, there was not so much in Brazil to find for you, or to see. And now you feel that Europe is empty?
Breno We have been together in Brazil, Sergi and me, to do our first residence. And what I could see there is all this urgency of “Wow, we have to live, we have to do things because we don’t know if there is a tomorrow for us!”. There is no institutionalization of art and so there is no money. People are just doing things: There is a garage where people go to rehearsals, and there is someone who knows how to paint, and the next one knows about scenography. It is a sharing service actually.
And to come back to your question: There is colonization until today, and you have to reflect about it, and about which role art plays in this circumstances, and how art in capitalism can be. It’s about stepping back and observe, because for me, as someone who is not coming from here, I have to deal with this situation, and I’m always putting me in a lower level. I’m not doing it in full consciousness, but you see, it already is kind of a mark. There was a time when I thought, “No, it’s ok, it’s just a matter of not understanding things right”. But today I feel the need to tell it like it is, that people really think out of a colonialist position. Maybe it is not going to be a colonialist position forever, but at least I can bring the person into questioning himself, how he is telling me or others things.
Tim Sergi, I guess you are also not born in Belgium?
Sergi No, I’m from Spain originally. But I have been here for ten years now.
Tim How did you perceive this research trip together with Breno to Brazil, and how do you feel about Spain, is it your home?
Sergi I really feel at home here in Brussels. I keep asking myself why there is all this attention to the space, this kind of a performative situation of where and when? It is very clear for me that home is where I am now. It’s Brussels. It’s the first time since I moved away from Spain, I’ve been floating around like a nomad, I don’t even consider myself Spanish, it is never the first thing I need to say. I’m from Barcelona, so people ask me: “You are Catalan or you’re not Spanish?” And I think they care more about the definition than I do.
And, in relation to the first question: Brazil was mind-blowing. I mean, I wish I had more time there, we were quite busy and had just a little bit of holiday which was amazing. We were teaching in exchange for the residency during two weeks. But for me that is actually what I love. This is how I want to travel in the future, if we can go back to travelling somehow. To go somewhere, where I’m really confronted with different reality, with a different way of functioning in a society. The empathy, the way, the time, how everything worked: It was slightly so different and some things were the same, so you could really reflect. How are the values? What is the norm for you? Before, everything became a bit standardized, if you’re living and working only in Europe: I can almost show you differences with a volume level: in Spain it’s louder, if you go to the north it is less (laughs). Brazil was like a real experience. It was not only travelling, doing a gig here, doing a gig there. Today I’m like allergic to this. I just hope together as a society we rethink a little bit what is our role, how do we share our work? We need to confront, we need this way of exchange. Water needs to be pushed so that it can rise. Otherwise there is no point, it is just floating around.
Katharina What does it mean for you to be an artist today?
Sergi Before Corona happened, I had the sense that in Europe it is too easy. For sure you have a process, and you have this application forms, and so on. There is a lot that has been produced, and I felt like something needed to break down, something needed to collapse in order for people to struggle. I was a very bad audience. I try to be very kind and I want to take only good things out from shows. So, I stopped watching shows and little by little, I started to see a little bit theatre, a little bit performance art, because I missed this depth a little bit in circus and sometimes in dance as well. My background is circus, so I’m really interested in dance - but somehow from the circus side. So, I was totally on this mind set that I hope that people have to struggle a bit in order to produce something. And that is for me, the art that I relate to, the kind of artist that I want to be. It’s working or talking about something that is relevant. That it is performative, that is has to do something with today, with the people that come to see it. I think what I did was relevant at the time, but I’m not sure and I can sacrifice myself as well. I just know that being aware of who has access to your art is important. We need to create a conversation. For example, it is important for me to be present in the (theatre-)space after the performance took place. It should be an imperative that people after the show can actually meet, can actually have a moment of true exchange. What happens after the curtains fall?
Breno We are used to live for the future, never in the present. And concerning that situation now, everyone is kind of lost. Actually, we don’t know what is going to happen in June. So this is the first time that I see people taking time. We breath more, we are much more sensitive. And I think art has to come from that place. Of course, the market of art is demanding more than we produce. Every year one piece, you have to be creative, producing, full of new ideas. But actually, you are not always full of energy like that. And at the same time, I have many friends saying: “I just want to wait until things will get back to normal”. But there is no normal anymore. It’s what we are living now. There are only consequences of what we are doing. And for me, to be an artist is to proceed and to understand all this transformation. I think the body is a collector of memories, so art is the way of deconstructing the things that are happening now, and you just absorb it and kind of puke it.
Tim Thinking about the future is something I have a lot in my mind. Do you think there will be a sort of normality again one day?
Sergi It’s relative, because even if we are in the same trouble all over the world, we have a different curve. I think as artists we have the responsibility to think about this future and to create it. I think it is not for us just to wait and sit until we can do something, until the government says: “Ok now you’re allowed to be free in a room”. No, it’s up to us to discuss, to come together with the producers, with the theatres and to negotiate and to invent the near future. Because otherwise the future is going to be only a version of the normality we had before. It’s about learning something from this situation, and creating action.
Katharina But, in a consequence, isn’t this something that the capitalist art market tells you? Isn’t this a huge pressure and responsibility?
Sergi I see many people who are behaving like that, who behave over-productive. And that is not sustainable. Maybe at some point, we should realize that we can’t assimilate fifteen videos per week, even if they are available for us, that makes no sense. So I think it has something to do with our ego, this way of being busy, of being creative. We need to let it pass. We need to find some peace somehow, stop selling and start to be creative for building something real to construct. And this takes time. Let’s just throw some ideas, it is not about creating now for tomorrow. We have a real opportunity now to change the market. We are a part of the economy, but we can be active in constructing how art is going to be related to the economy in the future.