and the years of continuous work of many activists, there is currently an increased sensitivity for obvious forms of racism in Germany – the usurpation of so-called “Hygienedemos” by right-wing extremists is being monitored in the media, racist structures in the police force are being uncovered, streets are being renamed. However, both everyday racism and the pursuit of structural anti-racist change often run further under the radar. MIMIMI Space is an experimental, interdisciplinary format that creates a space for artistic engagement with racism, a laboratory for self-reflection and healing.
Ricardo de Paula’s tool is contemporary dance. Accordingly, the Black body is at the centre of the project, with its inscribed history, memories and experiences. The knowledge of the historical origins of racist structures and the philosophies and ways of thinking that determine them creates the basis for looking ahead. With an awareness of the past and a vision for the future, MIMIMI Space questions the present.
The main source of inspiration for the approach of the project is quilombismo, a concept of solidarity. In his essay “Quilombismo: An Afro-Brazilian Political Alternative” from 1980, Abdias do Nascimento sketches the ideal image of an alternative free and democratic community of solidarity, in which Blacks restore their freedom and human dignity. Taking recourse to the historical experience of quilombos, he argues that everywhere there are other examples of lived solidarity, quilombismo. For MIMIMI Space, artists, activists and researchers jointly develop artistic formats in this spirit, in which knowledge from the different fields flows in and mutually enriches each other.
of the project, the dance performance CLEANSE/NU from 5-8 December 2020 at HAU 2 looks ahead: CLEANSE/NU imagines a state in which Black bodies simply are, detached from norms, conventions, stereotypes and taboos that are consciously and unconsciously applied to Black bodies on stage and in everyday life. The aim of this work is to empower the Black body as subject and to focus on being and becoming.
The Brazilian feijoada opens the journey of MIMIMI Space. Ricardo de Paula invites his guests for a banquet. By offering feijoada, a disputed symbol of Brazilian national cuisine and identity, he sets the stage (and the table) for discussions about the tensions behind narratives of harmony and the violent culture and everyday lives in Brazil. The community at the table here is informed by shared concerns regarding anti-racism, food justice and body politics from a feminist and decolonial perspective. Renata Motta (sociologist/FU Berlin), Sandra Bello (activist) and dancers from CLEANSE/NU will give artistic, academic and activist impulses for a discussion between all the attendants.
The Brazilian feijoada was constructed as a symbol for the coming together of different peoples, African, European, and American Indigenous peoples, and the resulting cultural richness of Brazil – where de Paula and a large part of the MIMIMI team come from. No doubt feijoada is a result of the exchange of peoples, cuisines and crops between world regions over the centuries. But just like any myth of a national identity, feijoada turns out to be a disputed symbol. Within a dominant discourse on Brazilian identity in which racial hierarchies are downplayed, the construction of feijoada as a national dish can be understood as a white project on closer inspection, as the often sketched image of the harmonious, multicultural Brazilian society does not correspond to its structural racism. Como podemos decolonizar a feijoada?
This and other topics related to feijoada are the subject of discussion – in a shared space that requires courage from all participants to question their own position. This is not a safe space, but a brave space, in which there is no unquestioned “we”, but nevertheless, the host will realize his utopian wish to assemble people who are willing to eat and digest together the tensions and possibilities of building worlds otherwise. What do we eat, what do we have to digest and what do we no longer want to swallow? The feijoada is also significant in another respect: with its long preparation time, it is a meal that represents the opposite of today’s trend towards fast food. This is the model for the artistic work in the project too. The individual events are usually preceded by years of the participants’ working with the respective themes, here they come together in a new way.
MIMIMI Space #2: Performance in English and Portuguese
Ricardo de Paula mimimeets Iury Trojaborg
Iury Trojaborg and Ricardo de Paula celebrate their grandmothers with an imaginary 100th birthday. Based on personal memories and memorabilia, they tell stories of the two women and shed light on the social and historical circumstances in which they themselves grew up in Brazil. What forms of (Black) masculinity or queer identity are possible and allowed in a patriarchal, militaristic society? What role does the female presence play in this? And where does the borderline run between autobiographical memory and fiction, when the grandmother creates a new narrative each time she tells her memory, when the story is constantly changing?
Fundamental to this encounter is the assumption that everyone is an archive for experiences and memories, for their own history as well as for the knowledge of our ancestors. A store of knowledge and a perspective that is not necessarily represented in state archives, or even deliberately deleted, such as the history of slavery in Brazil.
“Present Body” is a dance statement on the situation and representation of Black bodies in art and its decolonisation. It is about the conditions that create unequal access to contemporary dance and to art in general. This encounter also deals with questions of the representation, visibility and significance of Black artists.
Ricardo de Paula and Eurico Ferreira Mathias take their own experiences and memories as a starting point and immerse themselves in the aesthetics of politics, movement and the music of Brazil’s African diaspora. The performance is carried by an ubuntu energy that also involves the audience. In a mix of classical, traditional and contemporary forms in both music and dance, new connections and possibilities are created. Understand the past, dance the present and dream the future in your own way!
An online platform to display Ricardo de Paula’s history and artistic work of recent years. A selection of dance videos and film footage of his choreographies revolve around the same themes again and again, the endless fight against racism. Here, the deadly consequence of racist thought and action over the centuries and up to the present day becomes clear, which Achille Mbembe describes as ‘necropolitics’. The films deal among other things with the effects of everyday racism on the body (In), the history of the enslaved in Guadeloupe (Black Memories on White Bones) or the senseless deaths of Trayon Martin (Shoot First) or de Paula’s own uncle, who died of a broken leg in the hospital waiting room (Tio Zé).
Dance Performance with Ruben Nsue, NSHK, Kalil Joigny, Cintia Rangel, Exocé Kasongo, Thiago Ferreira Samambaia
CLEANSE/NU is a political statement, a self-empowerment and purification. It is a step towards a decolonised future in which all people are free subjects. The six dancers with very diverse biographical and dancing backgrounds develop new ways of thinking, being and acting on stage, determine themselves the images and ideas they have of themselves and what they want to awaken in others. They show an overwhelming belief in the power of their bodies, their community and solidarity, which gives hope for healing and the beginning of a new era.
A source of strength lies in nature, in the awareness for oneself and every other life. In this context, treating yourself and your own body well is a step towards a holistic way of thinking that avoids exploitative structures. The universe, Olurum, stands here for the connection with a larger context. From the vastness of the universe shines the vulnerability and magnificence of life on earth without borders. The dancers orbit each other like stars and refer to something that goes beyond us humans, connects us and makes empathy possible.
Tänzer*innen CLEANSE/NU Ruben Nsue, NSHK, Kalil Joigny, Exocé Kasongo, Cintia Rangel, Thiago Ferreira Samambaia
Gäste Encounters (Online) Sandra Bello, Renata Motta, Iury Trojaborg, Eurico Ferreira Mathias, Karina Griffith, Diana McCarty
Mit der Unterstützung der Forschungsgruppe Food for Justice, Latainamerika-Institut, FU Berlin
Künstlerische Leitung Ricardo de Paula
Regieassistenz Natalie Riedelsheimer
Dramaturgie Katja von der Ropp
Bühne Zé de Paiva
Grafik & Webdesign Miro Wallner
Lichtdesign Raquel Rosildete
Musik Biano Lima
Kostüm Andreina Vieira dos Santos
Kostümassistenz Cintia Rangel
Video Zé de Paiva, Kathleen Kunath
Feijoada Neusa Paixão
Produktionsleitung MIFRUSH Production Micaela Trigo/Urszula Heuwinkel
Kommunikation Kerstin Böttcher
Hallesches Ufer 32
Eine Produktion von Ricardo de Paula in Koproduktion mit HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin und freundlicher Unterstützung von SAVVY Contemporary und Grupo Oito. Gefördert durch den Hauptstadtkulturfonds.