Plagiat beim Theatertreffen – Pressemitteilung und Interview mit Ricardo de Paula

„Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

hiermit möchten wir Sie auf die an diesem Sonntag (11.Mai 2014) stattgefundene
Intervention während des Berliner Theatertreffens aufmerksam machen.
Im November 2012 hat das Tanzkollektiv Grupo Oito mit dem Tanztheaterstück
„Sight“ am Ballhaus Naunynstraße Berlin Premiere gehabt. Ausgangspunkt ist die
Geschichte von Estamira, die über 20 Jahre in der Müllstadt Jardim Gramacho bei
Rio de Janeiro lebte, in der täglich acht Tonnen Müll abgeladen wurden.
Offiziell für verrückt erklärt, formulierte Estamira jedoch mit eloquenter,
philosophischer und poetischer Sprache ungewöhnliche, aber aus heutiger Sicht
erstaunlich treffende Antworten auf die großen Fragen unserer Zeit wie die
ungeheuren Mengen von Müll, die in modernen Gesellschaften entstehen.
Im Januar 2014 entstand das Tanztheaterstück „Tauberbach“ von Alain Platel an
den Münchener Kammerspielen, dessen Inhalte und Ästhetik sehr stark an
„Sight“ erinnern. Der Unterschied ist, dass bei „Tauberbach” die
westeuropäische Perspektive durch die Repräsentation von Estamira als Schwarze
„wild“ und „verrückt“ Frau dominant ist. Interessanterweise wurde
„Tauberbach“ zum Berliner Theatertreffen eingeladen und an die Grupo Oito der
Vorwurf des Plagiats herangetragen.
Eine lose Gruppe von Kulturpraktiker*innen hat sich gegen postkoloniale
Strukturen, die kulturelle Aneignung und den hegemonialen Diskurs öffentlich zur
Wehr gesetzt.

Im Folgenden finden Sie ein Interview, das Dr. Azadeh Sharifi mit Ricardo de Paula führte – über den Kontext der Entstehung von „Sight“ und die Repräsentation von Künstler*innen of Color im westeuropäischen Diskurs:

Existing and Resisting An Interview with Ricardo de Paula on Estamira
and cultural appropriation
by Dr. Azadeh Sharifi

Azadeh Sharifi : Thank you Ricardo de Paula to meeting me. I would like to talk to you about your dance piece “Sight” which premiered in November 2012, about Estamira as the central figure and about Alain Platels piece “Tauberbach. But first, can you tell me about your work as Grupo Oito and your work on “Sight” about Estamira

Ricardo de Paula: Grupo Oito is a dance collective and was founded in 2006. We are independent artists, whose personal and educational background are immensely diverse. We became widely known for our street performance “Dance for Sale” which focuses on the commercialization of art, using a dance as a product. The artists of Ballhaus Naunynstraße knew our work and invited us to do our next production there. We as a dance collective share the common aim of exploring relationships between individual and society and reflect how they perceive modern society. “Dance for Sale” was an impulse to work with Estamira’s world and her reflections. Estamira has a political power in terms of capitalism, communism, religion and injustice in society. She put’s it in a way that is really magical but is also really close to our reality. She was a powerful woman and human being although she had a traumatic life and lived on the border of the society. That was our common and starting point. We as Grupo Oito create art from the border of society.
We do things to survive and exist and we do things to resist the hegemonial structure and power of the art market. So we started with Estamira’s universe and from there we created the piece “Sight” as a consequence.

Azadeh Sharifi: And Ballhaus Naunynstraße was the right place because of its tradition to make marginalized positions and voices visible. Can you tell me more about Estamira’s universe. And the connection between you as a choreographer from Brazil working in Berlin?

Ricardo de Paula: I knew the work of Estamira through the documentary by Marcos Prado in 2005. In 2007-2008, I really started to have her image on my mind. Why? Estamira is a woman, she’s black, she’s Brazilian. She worked in the mountains of garbage, she was schiziophrenic but she had a mysticism where she talked a lot of true for us as a normal society. But thats the question of what is normal in our society? I am Brazilian choreographer with African descent. I cannot say that I experienced a life like Estamira but her perspective is really close to me. In Brazil we are living with a completely different society in terms of economics, points of views and culture. We have a historical background of colonization. I am part of the borders of Brazilian history and I am conscious of that. There is a consciousness of this resistance. We do have to resist all the time. All the time we need to prove that you are able to make art in a different way. You cannot let it go, all the time you must keep your eyes open and all the time there is this tension, that is due to that resistance. And when I got to knwo Estamira I realized that her life and her work is a inspiration and a source for creating life art. In the documentary “Estamira”, she told the photographer Marcos Prado that his mission is to reveal her mission. This is a quite important statement because she knew that has a lot of things to say. That was the magical thing about Estaimra that she is not so “crazy” that she didn’t know what she was talking about she was conscious.

Azadeh Sharifi: “Sight” premiered at Ballhaus Naunynstraße in November 2012. When did you start working with “Sight” and how did you created the world of Estamira?

So we started working on “Sight” in 2010-2011. Estamira’s universe is made inside of us and our performance is a way to give her a voice in the place that we are today. In the piece we have many places where you can hear her voice and we translate it in different languages as close as possible. But not just a voice as also a face because there is a moment in our piece where she appears in real life. For example the music of our performance is a mixture of estamiras voice and words. And we used some sounds of the streets that we transformed a little bit. And there are many voices in different languages that speak the things that Estamira said. And to create the world where she lived and worked we had many clothes on the floor. At the end of the performance ends by the bodies of the dancers in a sac of garbage. That is our conclusion because our dead body will be in the end garbage. And that makes the point of the piece for us because the piece comes back to the point where it started.
I cannot say we really got Estamiras whole life in the piece “Sight” because we are really far from getting half from what is in her world. But as I said we took what was close to us. We are there with Estamira. That was the clear point from the beginning of the piece we should not try to (mis)represent her. This was our common points especially in the collaboration with Ballhaus Naunynstraße. It is to show her, to walk together on the garbage, it is be important to have her image to give the audience a little bit of knowledge about what person she was. But we did not to exploit her.

Azadeh Sharifi: So now there is another piece on Estamira. It is “Tauberbach” by the famous Belgium choreographer Alain Platel which was invited to Berliner Theatertreffen. Have you seen it and what is your opinion about it?

Ricardo de Paula: I know Alain Platel and his company. And the quality of their work is really strong. They produced “Tauberbach” in 2014, after we had produced “Sight” in 2012. To be honest, I was very disappointed why they keep the audience in the usual comfortable position. Bachs music is so strong from the beginning and then someone tries to represent Estamira, that I found the weakest point in the performance. This representation of Estamira didn’t work, because I didn’t really see her there. So basically the white male body of Bachs music came on top of that marginalized person. That make me very furious. For me you have to consider the frame of the art. We are talking about the Westeuropean society, we are talking about postcolonial context and we are talking about the hierarchy in which kind cultural production is being made visible. It is the fetishism of the black female body and the obsession to show her as a “wild and crazy” person.
So in relation to “Sight” it is really clear that “Tauberbach” is from a Western european point of view. And in terms of the art market, the market of dance, we know “Sight” is done. “Sight” have no more place because of the hierarchy of society, the hierarchy which gives only few all the resources. From now on the people will compare our work and the way one thing is produced and the way another thing is produced and I think it shouldn’t work this way. So I am no more peaceful with my piece.
But I have pleasure in working they way I did. Existing and resisting. We have thousands of Estamiras in Brazil, we have a billion of people in this situation. So there is a lot things that need to be done. So we are ready to fight – as human beings and as artists.

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