corpos em luta
“The body is a portal that simultaneously inscribes and interprets,
means and is meant, being projected as continent and content,
place, environment and vehicle of memory.” - Leda Maria Martins *
The fighting dances, Ladja (practiced in the island of Martinique, French territory in the Caribbean) and Laamb (from Senegal), are the starting points for reading of the works presented in the exhibition “Corpos em luta”. We Brazilians have Capoeira, which has points in common with Ladja and Laamb, these 3 socio-cultural manifestations are refuge, memory and resistance of an ancestral body, coerced to travel the path of the African diaspora.
The images that make up the exhibition are records of someone who saw, experienced and researched fighting dances in Martinique and Senegal. The works presented here still have a documentary profile, however, Edu Monteiro goes further by blurring the lines that define the boundaries between being a photographer and artist, emphasizing characteristics that have always integrated his means of artistic expression.
The contemporary language, in the multitude of paths it travels, is the way in which Edu Monteiro creates installations, sculptural objects and photographs that are supported by rich symbolic clues. Tension generates balance anchored in the skin. Coal is a reference to the metaphor used in Martinique for black skin, as something that has burned, suffered, endured and still resists. The skin stretched in space occupies the void, fills, breaks the gallery wall, while the invisible takes shape. At all times, Edu Monteiro inserts us as accomplices of a ritual.
And speaking of ritual, some elements that constitute the exposition are existing signs during the formation of fighting dances circles. By stacking two stones, Lajda practitioners believe in a connection to the spiritual world, which could consecrate the winner of the fight. while in the Senegalese fight, the ram's horn makes up the “mandinga”, known as an element of power and life force. The drum, traditionally produced with sheepskin, in both manifestations is the instrument responsible for generating the energy and rhythm for fighting bodies, so its sound is considered a link between the real world and the supernatural.
Edu Monteiro gives visibility to combat practices related to the African Diaspora, without using a pamphletary narrative, fighting are the basis of the creative process of the works presented. These are memories, gestures and traditional rhythms transformed into objects of art through experimentation and subjectivities. This reverberates a consolidated artistic production in contemporary times, with well-defined identity and repertoire.
*MARTINS, Leda Maria. Performance do tempo espiralar. In: RAVETTI, G.; ARBEX, M. (Org.). Performance, exílio, fronteiras: errâncias territoriais e textuais. Belo Horizonte: Departamento de Letras Românicas UFMG, 2002, p. 89
Edu Monteiro's professional and artistic career begins with photojournalism. However, already in his first personal essay - "Mandingueiros" about capoeira and finalized in 2006 - his search went for the symbolic, element rooted in his spirit and present in the portrayed objects and situations performed from then on. "Jardinagem," "Saturno", "Autorretrato sensorial", "Noite chinesa", are some of the series that he develops using various means: image, sound, movement.
[Stone, leather, rope. Body.] From the two-dimensional he leaves for the space, without giving up symbolic elements. He searches in the capoeira, ladja and lamb rituals a source to pour his poetry, turning it into images, texts and sculptural objects loaded with ancestry. Metaphorical discourse is formed through the association of fragments compiled in Martinique, Senegal and Brazil.
Familiar with the essence of the African fighting dances and the diaspora rituals , Edu Monteiro presents an insight into the facts, challenging the closed formulas of photojournalism (from the beginning of his career) and a purely documentary narrative. At the center of his convictions is a transcendental vision that unites him with the intangible of these practices.
[Tension, balance, energy. Life.] Not only composition and light shape his work. Color and sound are a structural part of his production. His aesthetic purpose highlights secrets in such a way that the portrayed reality becomes a symbol. The symbol becomes image. The image transforms the other - the observer – who starts identifying still unconceived and unrecognized forms within himself.
Edu Monteiro's creative impulse deals with life's essential issues, with power and courage. Unveiling mysteries has been the pursuit of this artist coherent with his aesthetic choices, which pass with the same force through performance, photography, sculpture, installation, text, video, audiovisual.
Assistant: Heloisa Guimarães e Netinho
Graphic design: João Paulo Pereira
Sound art: Dai Ramos e Edu Monteiro
And a special thanks to everyone involved in making this exhibition possible.