By Andreia Duarte
It was 2001 and I still can feel to this day the strength that propelled me towards Kamayura village. There live an indigenous people speaking the Kamayura language, which belongs to the Tupi linguistic branch. Their area is part of the Xingu Indigenous Park, an indigenous and environmental land in central-western Brazil in the state of Mato Grosso. I remember the trip I took alone, I was 21, leaving my hometown, Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais, to meet chief – cacique – Kotok Kamayura in the small town of Canarana, also in Mato Grosso. From there we went by plane to Xingu watching the shifts in the landscape: the view of the city getting small, the entrance of the immense delimited fields of plantations and livestock, the limits of the indigenous reserve and the vastness of its forest, river and savannah. I have often observed the village from above, as the plane begins to descend until it touches its wheels on the improvised landing strip. It was January 5 and the memory of my body standing in front of the Ipavu lagoon—looking at the clearness of that water totally bordered by Buriti palm and extensive area of forest – recalls that very decisive moment. Overflowing with the experience of being in that territory, I remember saying to myself: “I want to live here.”
All the speeches used in the show are real and sought to validate the discussion in a militancy: the speech itself, the indigenous orality and the argument of representatives of the agricultural group of the National Congress. On several occasions, exchanges took place with representatives of different peoples: the cacique Kotok Kamayura helped to translate the indigenous speech of the dramaturgy into the Kamayura language and we made presentations with the presence in the audience of different ethnic groups. A highlight was when we presented to more than 4,000 indigenous people on the small stage of the Acampamento Terra Livre 2017 (Free Land Campsite 2017), the largest gathering of the indigenous movement in Brazil, that took place on the lawn in front of the National Congress in the Federal capital, Brasília).
Opening this window in an alliance with the leader Ailton Krenak, in 2018, we made the creation and curatorship of TePI - Theater and the indigenous people, as an artistic show that seeks the expansion of theatrical forms in an appreciation of the body by aesthetic and political production. But it is also a space that recognizes the protagonism of indigenous artists, while suggesting meetings and shows that unite indigenous and non-indigenous. Later that year, I invited Krenak and Kopenawa to create by my side and in co-authorship a scenic experiment called “The Silence of the World,” at the Porto Alegre in Scene Festival in Rio Grande do Sul in 2019. Unfortunately, Kopenawa could not attend because he had to undergo a long period of mourning and seclusion after his father-in-law passed away. So, Krenak and I embarked on a creative immersion through which we built a theatrical result in the format of a lecture-performance that we presented at São Pedro Theater to an audience of 700 people.
The dramatic action alongside Ailton Krenak reinforced the need to coin spaces in which we can speak and experience together. In the same way it reaffirmed the importance of art as an exercise of creation, where it does not matter whether we are dealing with reality or fiction. As in the time of uncertainty that Krenak elucidates, what I am interested in is finding in artistic practice a transmutation over notions of life, reworking meaning, images and time. Especially in the case of the theater that has the body as a privileged place of experimentation, I see a door opening in a crossing of itself, in the construction of a collective event and in a process of transformation.
I learned from the indigenous body and the body in the theater to believe in places where everything can come to be. An anti-colonial practice could be that of knowing that the past, present and future are totally connected and therefore can help us transmute and propel our existence to the place we want.
The original peoples’ concept of expanded time is one that connects them with all that is alive (whether human or non-human) and inserts them into a collective dimension where they dance and sing for rhythmic reciprocity with the planet. As an artist, I keep imagining non-indigenous bodies aligned with indigenous ancestral knowledge to reestablish a connection: doing it together because we choose to do it, entering the rhythm of the earth with their own rituals and resonating their creations in the world like the sound in the air.