Burning Up



Text by Ulisses Carrilho
Photographs by Victor Nomoto
Wednesday, April 8 - 2015

Dressed in business attire as if headed to the office, Grupo EmpreZa greeted the audience last Tuesday with fire. The heat liquified paraffin wax, candles melted in an artist's mouth. A dress disappeared, engulfed in flames. The performance was also a silent fight between two artists: one who continuously lit a candle while the other, facing the flame, tried to extinguish the fire each time it was lit.

The term "serão" itself is an appropriation by Grupo EmpreZa. Serão Performático is a term conceived by the collective using the word "serão" as translated to "night overtime,” typical for those who have corporate desk jobs; and the reference to the term "sarau,” from the Latin seranus, which means a gathering for recreational purposes, such as listening to music and reading poetry. Sequentially and simultaneously,  various actions are performed. In one way or another, they all evoke this appropriated “serão,” as it relates to Grupo EmpreZa.

The climax of the piece is in the evening, but work begins in the afternoon. A totem is gradually built with candle wax. It is then melted and put in water to form to form semi-solid membranes that, once placed on the floor, harden into a sort of net around the “In Between” space, from its center all the way to the entrance.

Sitting on a chair, one of the artists remains still while another holds a large candle over him and melts wax on his jacket, head, and hands. In another corner of the room, a third member of Empreza holds a candle in his own mouth. Paraffin drips onto his beard and lips, some hardened pieces end up in his mouth, restricting the movement of his jaw.

Meanwhile, in another room, a pair of women silently fight for control of the candlelight. Suddenly another artist arrives and takes off her dress. Sitting on a chair naked, she lights matches and throws them at the rumpled dress on the floor next to her.

The evening culminates in a great ceremony, Requiem of the Cow [O Réquiem da Vaca]. Candles are concealed inside pieces of paper, a sort of "prayer book" from which a performer reads, emulating a priest. The requiem is divided into three parts: anger, wrath, and fortune. Viewers are given their own printed prayers and candles to hold. They are then invited to paint with the ashes, remnants of the “serão”.

This Serão Performático was the third in a series of six performances that comprise the project Vesuvius, by Grupo EmpreZa.

Terra Comunal - MAI is free and open to the public until May 10, 2015 @SESC Pompeia, São Paulo - Brazil.