Carlos Motta, Artist

Mourning Stage — Performance with Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau

performance starts at min 8:11

Mourning Stage is a live performance by Carlos Motta and Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau with sound design by Isabel Gonzalez Toro, commissioned for Gathering 3 of the Berlin Biennale. The work references 41 drawings from Motta’s We The Enemy series, based on representations of the devil drawn from art history: historical paintings that portray Satan in hell, drawings, illustrations, and sculptures that represent the devil embodied. Each figure defies normative moral standards of beauty, respectability, and behavior. Among this army of demons, there are feminized characters who suggest sexual perversion – as typified by the Catholic imagination. Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau interprets and responds to the drawings on stage using her body and exaggerated facial expressions during a ritualistic performance where the “colonized body”—due to its sexual or gender expressions— is mourned.

The performance was presented in the context of The Power of Mourning: Decolonial Struggles and Queer Bodies at ExRotaprint on 10/29/2020 together with a live performance by Bartolina Xixa  and a prerecorded presentation by Naomi Rincón Gallardo, moderated by Agustín Pérez Rubio

The 11th Berlin Biennale’s final gathering aims to move away from Western philosophy and cultural theory’s understandings of death and mourning. It emphasizes themes of death, mourning, and life after death from a queer perspective, using a critique of norms, questioning ontologies, epistemologies, and ethics, as well as bio and necropolitical agendas, based on the works of the artists presented in the 11th Berlin Biennale exhibition. Taking into consideration that for Indigenous peoples death has been life’s silent companion since the start of the colonial conquest, these artistic interventions attempt to critique discourses on death and mourning associated with heteronormative models of familial bonds, chronological lifestyles, norms for intergenerational relationships, and “adequate” responses to biopolitical regimes of health and life. They delve into the cultural ties that Indigenous peoples have maintained in their understanding of mourning as a form of both cultural expression and struggle, and, in this sense, broaden the spectrum of the sexo-dissident struggle, understood as bodies that are battlegrounds and decolonial resistance beyond their mortality.